Breaking News: Mail Theft

Reports are coming in from several residents on the south and east sides of the lake regarding mailbox break ins having occurred this morning (Thursday, October 31) along 198th Street and all down Military Road.  If you were a victim of this crime – please report it to the King County Sheriff via the following web site:

Mail theft is more than a nuisance; it is a serious crime, yet it is assumed that many residents don’t report mail theft for such reasons as:
  • they don’t know how
  • they got no feedback/outcome from earlier reports
  • they are not sure what’s missing if anything
  • they are not sure what all is involved; they are not sure it’s worth the trouble.
Stolen mail is often a thief’s first step into an even worse crime: identity theft, which is the fastest growing crime in the US today, one that takes its victims hundreds of ugly hours researching damages, resolving billing disputes and restoring credit ratings.

If you are a victim of mail theft, you are urged to first submit a crime notice through the King County Sheriff's Office Online Reporting System and follow that up with a report to the United States Postal Inspector Service.  

For added protection you should also consider performing the following additional actions:
  • Call your bank and have a “watch” put on your account. All major banks and credit unions will have this capability and most will also have the added protection of adding a supplementary password added that must be given for any access to your account.
  • Call all your credit card companies and also put a watch on your accounts.  If you’re ultra-paranoid, you can get your credit card company to issue you a brand new account # and card which you should be able to get within 3-5 business days.
  • Contact the credit reporting agencies to put a “Fraud alert” on your credit file.  Calling each one individually is a pain in the back side, however if you file a fraud alert through Transunion, they will automatically notify and process fraud alerts to Experian and Equifax also.
And finally, if you witness any suspicious activity of individual(s) loitering around or tampering with mailboxes or if you observe anyone improperly discarding mail along the road – don’t hesitate to call 911!  The few minutes you take to make a report may save a neighbor from years of grief caused from identity theft.


LPG said...

One suggestion from looking at the random acts of tampering with the mailboxes along 198th street is that you should not leave your mail in the box overnight. Make it a habit to empty your mailbox each evening. I believe that thieving vandals look into the boxes to see if there is mail in them before they pry it open. I noticed a few that had been pried so they could peak in but they were not opened.

SPD Officer Rowe said...

Mail theft has been a big problem for several years now…This is one of the easiest crimes to commit with least amount of fear of being caught.

If you think about it over the past 100 years we have changed many processes in how our monies are handled i.e. banking etc…Yet we still send and receive some of our most personal information via an unlocked, unsecured box.

When it comes to mail I ask that people attempt to send it via the post office, through their employer or a USPS drop box. If possible talk with your neighbors and discuss pooling funds to purchase a multi-address, locking post box. If this is something that will work in your neighborhood make sure you contact the local post office before installation. Most of the large multi tenant boxes contain locking package spaces as well.

If you can’t get enough of your neighbors together who are interested in getting a multi-tenant box then consider getting a locking heavy duty box for yourself. These boxes cost a bit but consider whether or not what you receive in the mail is something you need to protect from criminals or not.

Note: Nothing is impenetrable or completely criminal proof but it definitely makes a difference and is a deterrent.

I am glad to see you reminded people to report the mail theft if they suspect that has occurred.

I have included the new laws specifically dealing with stolen mail. This law went into effect in 2011.

RCW 9A.56.380
Possession of stolen mail.
(1) A person is guilty of possession of stolen mail if he or she: (a) Possesses stolen mail addressed to three or more different mailboxes; and (b) possesses a minimum of ten separate pieces of stolen mail.
(2) "Possesses stolen mail" means to knowingly receive, retain, possess, conceal, or dispose of stolen mail knowing that it has been stolen, and to withhold or appropriate to the use of any person other than the true owner, or the person to whom the mail is addressed.
(3) The fact that the person who stole the mail has not been convicted, apprehended, or identified is not a defense to the charge of possessing stolen mail.
(4) Each set of ten separate pieces of stolen mail addressed to three or more different mailboxes constitutes a separate and distinct crime and may be punished accordingly.
(5) Possession of stolen mail is a class C felony.

Rich Rowe/ Crime Prevention Officer
King County Sheriff's Office
City of SeaTac Police
4800 S 188 ST
SeaTac, WA 98188