Close to thirty residents in The Oaks community gathered at the neighborhood cul-de-sac to discuss what they can do to stop mail theft.
"We've been having mail break-ins for the last two to three years, if not longer. But it seems like just within the last month since the end of August we've been hit like five times. Twice this week," said Tammy Smith a resident of The Oaks and host of the neighborhood meeting.
USPS said that mail theft has been plaguing neighborhoods all around Bakersfield. In The Oaks, the residents say that sometimes the mailbox is physically damaged and other times it looks like someone with a key stole the mail, because it was locked back up.
For some residents this was their first time getting to know their neighbors. Del Mersands, a resident of The Oaks who had his credit card stolen and almost lost $400 dollars, didn't realize his credit card was stolen until a neighbor was mentioning about the recent theft. Smith said they are on a mission to make a difference as a community. After waking up this morning to a broken in mail box and all the mail gone, Smith said, they've had enough.
The Oaks residents said they were frustrated because they haven't seen any results. They were also concerned that they don't have a consistent mail carrier. Smith said, until the mailbox is restored, that neighborhood's mail will be stored at the Post Office. Smith said it's more of an inconvenience for some of the residents who are older, and who have a harder time traveling out of the house.
Smith says that the neighbors have had passports, clothes, checks, medications and even credits cards stolen. She said one neighbor whose credit card was stolen, found $3,500 of fraud charges on his card.
"It seems like here lately we are nothing but easy targets. So we as neighbors we are doing everything we can, to come together and communicate better, do everything that we can do and now we need the post office to do everything they can do," said Smith.
To keep track of your mail and try to prevent a theft, Smith says to sign up for Informed Delivery® by USPS® This program allows you to, "digitally preview your mail and manage your packages scheduled to arrive soon," according to the website.
If your mail has been stolen, USPS and the police department said it's important to report: File a police report and contact the Postal Inspectors and they can be reached 24/7 at 1-877-876-2455.
"If you have mail stolen, contact the post office, call the postal inspector, file a police report. Do everything that you can possibly do, don't think that since it's happened so many different times before, then 'Oh well, we'll just forget about it this time. Stay proactive, we have to stay proactive to get anything done, said Smith."
Here are a few tips from the Bakersfield Police Department on how to prevent mail theft, for the full list visit this link :
- Do deposit mail at your local post office, especially if you are sending checks or documents with sensitive personal information
- Make sure your mailbox is in good condition. Mailboxes in poor condition often expose mail to theft and bad weather
- Promptly pick up your incoming mail once it is delivered to your mailbox
- Consider having regular income checks deposited electronically right into your bank account via direct deposit. It’s easy, and in most cases, it’s free. Contact your bank for details
- In case your mail is stolen, to avoid fraudulent use of your checking account, use the following tips for writing checks:
- Write out in full the “payee” and “memo” portions. Fill up the entire lines with letters or squiggly lines
- Use thick, dark ink; red ink is best (not felt pen) to write you checks. Roller-ball pens are best
- Never send cash or coins through the mail.
- Immediately notify the post office and mailers if you change your address. If you are going on vacation, notify the post office, or have a trusted friend or neighbor pick up your mail promptly after delivery
- Be observant of activities on your street.
- Immediately report any suspicious persons or activity