Mail theft leads to identity theft

Many people don’t consider that their mail could be stolen. But it happens. And it’s a felony.

“We try to tell people that depending on the areas they live in, they may need to have their mail sent to a P.O. Box,” said Scott Angulo, an officer with the Tallahassee Police Department.

“There are also mailboxes that are made with locks on them.”

Reports across the country of stolen mail have been a serious issue within the U. S. Postal Service. In some of those cases, postal employees have been the suspects.                                    

“I’m not sure if someone at the post office fumbled on the delivery or my mail was stolen, but I have lost priceless pictures through the mail system,” said Applemania Cook, a third-year elementary education student from Lakeland.                                                

The postal service gives tips to citizens to protect themselves, such as promptly removing mail from their mailboxes after it is delivered. This prevents the theft of the more sought-after items such as credit cards and checks.               

Some people have begun to take action against mail fraud. “I know there are some communities that have actually started neighborhood watches who watch each others mail,” Angulo said. “This allows trusted neighbors to call us as they may be witnessing a mail thief in action.”

There have been recent cases of stolen mail in Tallahassee.”I was expecting some mail that I never received, and then all of a sudden I received a letter from the state saying that my mail had been stolen,” said Gregory Bradford, a senior allied health student from Orlando.                                                     

Situations like these are not new to TPD officers.                                                                       

“I’m not surprised that young man’s mail was stolen,” Angulo said. “It is a crime that often happens. I don’t think criminals know that it is a felony.”                                         

When people’s mail is stolen, they sometimes learn a hard lesson in prevention, unless there is nothing that could have done to prevent the crime.

“I never thought somebody would steal my mail,” Bradford said. “I know that if I go out of town I will definitely let someone know when I will not be home so they can get the mail for me.”   There have been recent discoveries in some cases involving mail theft.                           

“We just successfully finished a case in which someone who committed the crime of stealing mail received a felony charge of mail theft and fraud, which came with the sentence of one year and one day,” said state attorney William Meggs.

The defendant, Michael Turner, was convicted of seven counts of criminal use of personal identification information, and one count of credit card forgery by possession of stolen card with intent to defraud. Turner was also ordered to pay restitution, court costs and fines.                                   

“It doesn’t happen that we will always catch the mail thief,” Meggs said, “but we do everything in our power to do the best job possible. Identity theft can be a result of stealing mail, and that is a very serious crime. It can basically take away someone’s life.”