BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — 23ABC is following up on a report of mail theft at the Hillcrest Postal Office in Bakersfield.
Keeley Van Middendorp spoke with a USPS inspector about how often the crime occurs and what residents should do in order to keep their mail safe and secure.
The latest available data shows postal inspectors arrested almost 2,500 people in the U.S. for mail and package theft in 2018. Inspector Matt Norfleet said those numbers have stayed steady over the past couple of years.
Officers like him work with law enforcement on these types of investigations and Norfleet told 23ABC it's crucial people make a report when their mail is stolen.
They can do so by calling a USPS inspector at 877-876-2455, or by filling out a webform. Their office is open 24 hours.
Norfleet said this type of crimes is often coordinated.
“The mail thieves are people who don't just do it once,” he said.
“We find mail thieves tend to work routes the same way that letter carriers do. When a mail thief gets arrested with a load of stolen mail in their car, we find mail from around the state indicating mail thieves are driving around stealing from mailboxes that they've identified as most vulnerable or most likely to produce the lucrative things that they want to steal."
Norfleet said it's important to get information about where thefts are happening and what's been stolen because it helps identify where mail thieves are likely to strike next.
He also warns this type of crime can haunt a victim weeks after their personal or financial information is stolen.
“So if it’s something like a credit card or a check that gets cashed somewhere else or changed and presented the customers might not know about that right away,” he said. “So, please keep us in mind if you hear about something from the mail that gets sent to your bank, even if it’s weeks or months after the mail theft happened. Call that number: 877 -876-2455. Or go online and let the post inspectors know because that’s going to be a lead as to who stole that mail in the first place."
He offered some tips that will help you keep your mail safe:
- Make sure your mailbox is located in a secure area
- Put a lock on your mailbox so it's harder to access
- Don't leave your mail in the mailbox for too long (thieves can strike in the early morning when mail has been left alone for hours)
- Sign up for trackable mail services like informed delivery (which notifies you when your mail or packages are delivered)
- Never approach or confront a mail thief
Norfleet said these situations can put you in danger. He recommended getting a vehicle/person description and license plate information to hand over to a USPS inspector and local law enforcement.