Mail thief on the loose in Concord, watch out!
Contra Costa Blog – 9/1/10
(CONCORD, CALIFORNIA) “I received the following email from a reader near Santa Paula Drive, which is off Oak Grove Road in Concord….
This morning around 5am I was laying in bed with my eyes open and saw the headlights of a vehicle shining very brightly in my bedroom window.
I quickly got up and looked outside to see a woman running from my neighbors yard. She then went to another neighbors yard and shined a flashlight in their mailbox and ran back to her vehicle.
The woman was driving what looked like a gray or silver smaller Toyota pickup with a camper shell. I ran outside and drove around looking for her so I could get her license plate, but she was already gone from the area.
We’ve chatted about this in the past. It’s important to not leave your mail in your mailbox overnight, and don’t put anything out for the mailman to take, because chances are the thieves will get to it first.
COMMENTS: Good advice. But with the prevalence of mail-identity theft, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Mail thieves are becoming increasingly brazen, targeting mailboxes in broad daylight and sometimes even following the postal carriers. To prevent becoming a victim of identity theft, get the Mail Boss, a high security locking mailbox that can’t be fished by hand or pried open with a screwdriver. It stops mail theft day and night, and gives you peace of mind.
Criminals target Overdale Park mailboxes
Issaquah Press – 8/31/10
(ISSAQUAH, WAHINGTON) “Vandals damaged several locking mailboxes in the Overdale Park neighborhood overnight last week. Police said the culprits forced the locks open and scattered mail on the ground.
The incident occurred before 6:53 a.m. Aug. 25 — the time a homeowner alerted police to the vandalism. The officer discovered the lower doors of the secured boxes hanging open. Residents reported mail scattered on the ground throughout the neighborhood. Police encouraged residents to contact the Issaquah Police Department individually if vandals targeted their mailbox.
Police did not know the estimated cost of the damage. […]”
COMMENTS: First of all, this is not an issue of mailbox “vandalism” but mail-identity theft. Criminals do not pry open locking mailboxes for fun. They are looking for your personal information for identity theft, such as bank statements, credit card offers and more. They often discard junk mail that is not useful to them – hence the piles of mail on the ground.
This story is close to home for us. A little background: I work for Mail Boss / Epoch Design – a family-owned company based in Redmond, WA. Our family lives in Sammamish and developed a high-security line of locking mailboxes when our mail was stolen 3 times in as many months. We tried to find locking mailboxes at Lowe’s/Home Depot but found only “secure” mailboxes that could be fished by hand or easily pried open with a screwdriver. Hence, the Mail Boss was born.
The locking mailboxes in Overdale Park were probably pried open in just seconds with a screwdriver. In fact, most locking mailboxes can be easily pried open. Not the Mail Boss. The Mail Boss is a high-security locking mailbox with a patented anti-pry latch to prevent leveraged entry. Made of 12- and 14-gauge electrogalvanized steel, the Mail Boss weighs a substantial 40 lbs, making it a formidable baseball bat opponent as well.
Sammamish Ace Hardware on the plateau sells the Mail Boss for $159. Tim, the owner, has been selling the Mail Boss locking mailbox since it was first developed; in fact, he was our first account. Since then, Mail Boss grown substantially and is now available in Ace Hardwares and True Values nationwide. There is a real demand for a product that offers true mail security like the Mail Boss.
Criminals are highly adept and they know which mailboxes to target; as more and more people get locking mailboxes, inferior quality products are being increasingly targeted, especially because thieves know that homeowners with a locking mailbox are less likely to check their mail as frequently since they have a (in our opinion, false) sense of security with their “secure” mailbox. To the residents of Overdale Park HOA, I would highly recommend looking into NOT replacing the locks of an inferior product, but investing in a locking mailbox that can prevent leveraged entry and fishing, and truly offer peace of mind.
WEBSTER POLICE reports: Theft from mailbox
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle – 8/30/10
(WEBSTER, NEW YORK) “Theft from mailbox: A resident reported seeing a man steal a personal check from his mailbox on Partridge Lane at 3:16 a.m. Aug. 20.”
COMMENTS: Theft from mailboxes is increasingly common, even in rural areas. Criminals look for checks to wash and use fraudulently, but they also look for your personal information including bank statements, credit card offers and more to use for identity theft. To protect yourself, use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss. Near Webster New York, Grossman’s Country Nursery carries the Mail Boss at an affordable price.
Woman faces multiple charges for ‘mailboxing’: Daughter reports witnessing mother committing crimes
Paragould Daily Press – 8/29/10
(PARAGOULD, ARKANSAS) “A Paragould woman was arrested earlier this week and will face multiple charges after encouraging her 11-year-old daughter to assist her in stealing a lock box from a home and taking checks from mailboxes, according to a reasonable cause affidavit from the Paragould Police Department.
Sherry Ellis, 31 of North 15 Street, allegedly admitted she was involved in having her daughter enter a residence to steal a lock box containing prescription medication and admitted she was involved in selling the medication that was obtained, according to the affidavit.
She also admitted she was in possession of a check that had been stolen from a mailbox and forged and transported it to another party where she was given money for it. Ellis denied participation in the theft of the check, according to the document.
Ellis’s daughter was interviewed and said her mother instructed her to take the box from her grandfather’s home and witnessed her mother selling the medication that was inside, according to the document. She further explained that her mother had been taking her “mailboxing,” meaning she had accompanied her mother while checking mailboxes for checks, according to the document.
The child also told detectives she saw her mother take a $100 check to another person and receive money for it, according to the document. It was also reported that the $100 check was sent from the Auditor of the State of Arkansas, according to the document.
She was able to take Det. Rhonda Thomas of the Criminal Investigation Department to the exact mailbox where the check was taken, according to the document.
She went on to describe her mother using drugs and said she sometimes drives her mother’s vehicle because Ellis would become dizzy, according to the document.
The child also stated her mother had called her from jail and told her if she told detectives anything, DHS would take her away and she would be in trouble, according to the document.
Ellis appeared in district court on Thursday and is facing charges of residential burglary, a class B felony; theft of property, a class A misdemeanor; endangering the welfare of a minor, a class D felony; intimidating a witness, a class C felony, theft of public benefits, a class A misdemeanor; forgery, a class C felony; and criminal trespass in a vehicle, a class C misdemeanor.
COMMENTS: Besides the obviously disturbing element in this story – a mother stealing from victims in the presence of her impressionable daughter – this is par for the course. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States and your unlocked mailbox is one of the common ways criminals obtain your personal information. Thieves can find bank statements, preapproved credit card offers, courtesy checks, social security statements and more all in your curbside mailbox.
To prevent mail identity theft, use a high security locking mailbox like the MailBoss that can’t be fished by hand or easily pried open with a screwdriver. Also, never send sensitive mail or checks from an unlocked mailbox. Bring them to the post office or use online bill pay. Finally, shred all sensitive documents (most of which come in your unlocked mailbox) before discarding them.