Postmaster warns residents of recent mail thefts

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By Rebecca Canfield

Liberty Hill Postmaster Derrick McLaren warned residents this week of recent mail thefts in the area.

“We had one particular customer bring in several items, pieces of mail and packages that were found in a ditch along County Road 223,” explained McLaren. “The mail that was stolen was taken out of regular curbside boxes that don’t need a key.”

McLaren recommends that mail customers be vigilant about their mail by getting their mail out of boxes as soon as possible, and to just be aware of the situation.

He also suggests that mail customers who are concerned about theft purchase boxes that require a key in order to deter theft in the future, although he is aware that not everyone may be able to do so.

“It’s really hard when customers have just regular boxes on the road. There’s really no deterrent. There have been several people caught stealing mail in the area in the last few years,” he said.

McLaren stated that the thief took mail out of every box they ran across in a local neighborhood. They opened up the packages, took whatever they wanted, and discarded the remainder of the items in a ditch. McLaren believes the thief was following the local mail carrier.

“They are looking for anything of value … checks, money, anything they can resell,” McLaren stated.

McLaren stated that the recent mail theft is not a one-time occurrence, but has been an ongoing issue.

Under United States Code 18 section 1708, federal mail theft is a felony punishable by fines of up to $250,000 or up to five years in federal prison.

Suspected mail theft should be reported to the US Postal Inspector Service and can be done online by visiting https://postalinspectorsuspis.gov or calling 1-800-275-8777.
The US Postal Inspector Service Recommends these tips to avoid being a victim of postal theft in the future.
– Use the letter slots inside your Post Office for outgoing mail, or hand it to a letter carrier.
– Pick up mail promptly after delivery. Don’t leave it in the mailbox overnight. If you’re expecting checks, credit cards, or other negotiable items, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail.
– If you don’t receive a check or other valuable mail you’re expecting, contact the issuing agency immediately.
– If you change your address, immediately notify your Post Office and anyone with whom you do business via the mail.
– Don’t send cash in the mail.
– Tell your Post Office when you’ll be out of town, so they can hold your mail until you return.
– Report all suspected mail theft to a Postal Inspector.
– Consider starting a neighborhood watch program. By exchanging work and vacation schedules with trusted friends and neighbors, you can watch each other’s mailboxes (as well as homes).
– Consult with your local Postmaster for the most up-to-date regulations on mailboxes, including the availability of locked centralized or curbside mailboxes.

Residents who believe they have witnessed a suspected mail theft should contact law enforcement officials.

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