Holidays mean thieves have mail set in their sights
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9 News – Denver, COLORADO
“It is a crime in which victims often do not even know they are victims.
Paul McPherson of Westminster says he would have had no idea someone stole letters from his mailbox if a neighbor had not delivered a greeting card and envelope he found in the street.
The envelope was torn open along the side.
“I think they went through our mailbox and pulled out anything that looked like a greeting card,” McPherson said.
He believes the mail thieves were after cash or gift cards.
Federal agents with the United States Postal Inspection Service say they see the numbers of reported mail thefts go up around the holidays.
Crooks look for specific envelopes, according to Jeff Reed, United States Postal Inspection Service spokesman.
“If they see what looks like a greeting card envelope being sent in someone’s mailbox or on top of a mailbox or at your residence on top of a slot to be picked up, then that invites them to open it up,” Reed told 9Wants to Know.
The Postal Inspection Service has agents dedicated to tracking down crooks who steal mail, but declined to give the specific number of agents.
“We take [mail theft] very seriously,” he said.
Anyone caught stealing or tampering with mail faces five years in a federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
In the Denver area last year, the Postal Inspection Service mail theft team arrested more than 60 people for allegedly stealing mail. Agents identified 232 victims who lost a total of $239,000.
Reed says that may seem like a high number of victims, but adds that the United States Postal Service delivers more than 175 billion pieces of mail each year.
McPherson says he has decided not to give crooks a chance to get his mail again. He has rented a post office box for the rest of the holidays.
“We’re being a lot more vigilant about the mail,” McPherson said.
He encourages everyone to be watchful and ask questions if they see someone or something out of place in their neighborhood.
“The idea that even in a quiet neighborhood you still have theft issues and concerns is unsettling,” he said.
Postal inspectors say another option when you are expecting an important piece of mail is to have the postal service hold your mail at the post office until you can pick it up in person. The post office will do this for free.
If you think you are a victim of mail theft, investigators ask that you file a police report and file a report with the United States Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455. […]”