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Sep 26

Preventing and Reporting Mail Theft ... Eliminate the Opportunity, Report it to Authorities

Posted on September 26, 2018 at 8:27 AM by Deputy Aaron Scheller

Here’s a scenario: you arrive at your mailbox with the expectations of finding mail you had been waiting for only to see the mailbox door open and nothing inside.
You stand confused wondering if the mailman had passed you by or if the mailbox door had fallen open on its own. That’s the first question the Sheriff’s deputy will ask you when you call to report stolen mail, “How do you know it has been stolen?”

Mail boxes or receptacles have been a feature of American homes and businesses for many decades. They serve an important functional purpose - to hold mail delivered daily by the United States Postal Service until their owners are able to collect.

SeptemberSafetySpeak_Mailbox-Lined Neighborhood
Beyond seeing them as a trusted and official conduit for communication, we regard our mailbox as our private property which is why it is a jarring experience to find it empty when we are expecting mail or, even worse, vandalized.

It is our mailbox. Our mail. Addressed to us or our family members. Unless authorized by us, no one else should take items from our mailbox. Federal law agrees.

Because the United States Postal Service is a federal agency, only authorized postal carriers are allowed to collect or place items in a mailbox. Both mail theft and the vandalism of a mailbox is a felony, a crime that carries fines of up to $250,000 and up to five years in federal prison.

Still, be it ignorance of federal law or a decision that the potential reward outweighs the risk, mail theft is a far too common occurrence. So let’s talk about how we can avoid becoming a victim.
The first point to consider is that mail theft mainly occurs at night time. From the time the sun sets in the evening and rises the following morning, thieves that target mailboxes are targeting neighborhoods, going from mailbox to mailbox, and grabbing and throwing the contents into their car as fast as they can so they can make a quick getaway and leave the area undetected.

Here are some helpful tips you can avoid having your mail stolen:

  • Take out mail from your mailbox after it gets delivered. From the time your postman drops your mail into your mailbox and before it get dark in the evening, get your mail.
  • Buy a locking mailbox. Thieve don’t take the time to pry mailboxes open when there are so many already unlocked.
  • Make arrangements if you are going out of town. Either have your local post office hold your mail or ask a friend pick it up while you are gone. 
  • Deposit all your outgoing mail at the post office. It is common for thieves to look for outgoing mail because they know you are sending out checks or credit card payments with personal identification information.
  • Consider a private mailbox. It adds an extra level of security to protect your important documents and packages from being stolen.
I hope these five helpful tips will help you avoid being a victim of mail theft. But if your mail is stolen or your mailbox is vandalized, be sure to notify the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - It's the federal agency in charge of safeguarding our country's mail system. You can call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) or file a complaint online. And, if you witness someone in the process of stealing mail, don't confront them but contact the Sheriff's Station immediately by calling (909) 595-2264.

Also, I encourage you to check out the latest Let’s Talk Public Safety leaflet that focuses on preventing and reporting mail theft. And, forward both this blog and the leaflet to your friends and family.

As always, I welcome your questions and suggestions. In addition to sending me an email, you can also talk to me in person during one of the City’s Coffee with a Cop events.This month is will be at CityPlus Coffee and Roaster (1155 S. Diamond Bar Boulevard) on September 11 from 5 to 7 p.m., and at Julie’s Café (1138 S. Diamond Bar Boulevard) on September 25 from 7 to 9 a.m.