Mailbox theft cases on the rise
60 local incidences; one person arrested, maybe more coming
Mail theft is nothing new but over the years the type of theft has changed.
“Traditionally, a person would worry about someone stealing a gift card or a new credit card out of a mailbox,” Faribault County attorney Cameron Davis explains. “Now, there are other concerns. People will steal personal information to do things in the victim’s name.”
Davis says his office is currently dealing with a case(s) where in excess of 60 people have been affected by the theft of their mail.
“One of the issues with mail theft is most victims are not even aware anything is happening,” assistant county attorney Brent Peterson adds.
And that is part of the problem.
“Unless someone has a doorbell camera or there is an eyewitness to the theft, these cases do not come to light until they are accidentally discovered,” Davis notes. “It is often difficult to identify the culprit.”
And how are the thieves accidentally discovered?
“It is usually through an unrelated criminal activity,” Davis comments. “Until then, the crimes are often undetected.”
Even though there are over 60 victims of mail theft who have recently been identified in the county, Davis feels it is not the end of the story.
“I am fairly certain there are more victims yet to be discovered,” he states.
Davis and Peterson say there are steps people can take to help protect themselves from mail theft.
“People can make use of the U.S. Post Office’s notification system,” Davis shares.
According to the United States Postal Service website, people can sign up for ‘Informed Delivery,’ a service which allows customers to receive an email containing grayscale images of the outside of their household’s letter-sized mail pieces which will be arriving that day.
“Do not leave mail in your mailbox overnight,” Davis says. “A person should also run frequent credit reports and study them.”
Davis notes mail theft is not the only thing people need to be concerned about.
“People need to take extra precautions to protect their checkbooks and checkblanks,” he comments. “Be vigilant. Any document which has any information, even a name or address, can be used by people to do you harm.”
And if someone discovers a problem?
“People need to contact their local law enforcement agencies if they notice any suspicious activity, whether it is on their property or in their credit report,” Peterson concludes.
It should be noted according to United States Code 18 Section 1708, federal mail theft is a felony. A person charged with mail theft could face up to five years in federal prison and fines us to $250,000.