(Our Thoughts on) Mail Theft in Hermitage, PA

Channel 11 News reports mail theft on the rise, police warn homeowners to take precautions

In Hermitage, a suburb of Pittsburgh, police have received multiple complaints from five different neighborhoods of mail stolen from unlocked mailboxes, and have apprehended no suspects. According to this report by Channel 11 news, its happening so frequently that local police are warning people to take precautions.

Even though mail theft is a federal offense, it is a common method used by thieves to acquire checks and/or sensitive information, which can then be used to steal identities. Hermitage Pennsylvania police say mail theft happens at night, and advise residents to put outgoing mail out in the morning or bring it to the post office.

Our Thoughts:

1. Mail theft happens more often than most realize

Mail theft is a huge problem across the country. (For reports on mail identity theft in a neighborhood near you, just check out these posts.) In reality, mail theft is highly under reported because many people don’t notice when their mail goes missing. Then, their identities are compromised and they don’t know how. In fact, according to the 2008 Identity Fraud Survey Report, only 35% of identity theft victims know how their data was taken.

2. Securing incoming mail is just as if not more important than securing outgoing mail

In this story, residents are advised to put their outgoing mail out early in the morning so it doesn’t sit out overnight, or better yet, to bring it to the post office. And, like many of us have heard before, residents are warned that the red flag signals thieves goodies are inside the mailbox. In summary, it recommends securing OUTGOING mail. However, it overlooks the problem of unsecured INCOMING mail which, unprotected without a locking mailbox, can provide identity thieves with a treasure trove of sensitive information: account numbers, pre-approved credit card offers, checks, bills, even social security statements! All of this information often proves much more valuable to an identity thief than a single outgoing check that can be washed.

3. Mail theft doesn’t only happen at night

It is a falsehood that mail is only stolen at night. Much mail theft happens during the day, when people are away from their houses at work or running errands, or even while they are at home! How does this happen? Many mail thieves look like your average citizen. They simply open the mailbox, take out the mail and walk away unnoticed, later discarding the junk mail that is of no use to them. A quick search on YouTube for “mail thief” will reveal many mail thieves caught on camera in broad daylight by homeowners fed up with being ripped off. Check out a few examples below, especially if you are inclined to believe that your mail and packages are safe during the daylight hours:

How do you prevent mail theft?

To stop mail theft, you don’t need high-tech surveillance equipment and you don’t need to orchestrate your mail pick up to coincide with the your mail carrier’s arrival at your house, to the second. All you need is a security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss. The Mail Boss is the first line of defense against mail identity theft. Its patented locking system prevents leveraged entry and makes the MailBoss locking mailbox virtually theft proof. If a mail thief has to stand in front of your locking mailbox for 20 minutes with a crow bar and a blow torch, the odds are close to zero that he will hang around waiting to get caught while conceiving some intricate scheme to break into your mailbox.

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