USPS suggests security tips after mail thefts

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By SEAN SHAPIRO

A Temple couple who plead guilty to stealing more than 50,000 pieces of mail, including mail from Liberty Hill, were sentenced last week in Waco.

Charles Hattenbach, 39, was sentenced to six years and nine months in federal prison and fined $6,000. Kathryn Hubbert, 29, received a four-year sentence and was fined $5,000. The Temple couple was also ordered to pay $103,720 in restitution.

From December 2013 to March 2014, the duo broke into post offices and mailboxes in 90 different communities including Liberty Hill twice, according to court documents.

Most of the postal break-ins took place at post office boxes. The duo would pry open boxes, often looking for checks, gift cards, credit card statements, and other items of value.

The couple was arrested in March after a routine traffic stop in Dallas on Jan. 31 led to their eventual arrest. At that stop, officers found 400 pieces of mail, three crow bars and a full-knit mask in the vehicle. The couple was processed and released.

About a month later, postal officials were given clearance to put a GPS tracking device on the vehicle, which led to the eventual arrest, documents say.

Officials from the local post office declined to comment on the case, or the break-ins at Liberty Hill. They did, however, refer The Independent to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service website that provides tips on how to protect your mail.

Amongst the suggestions emphasized was not to allow mail to sit in a mailbox overnight and checking to make sure expected parcels arrive.

If expecting checks, credit cards or other negotiable items, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up the mail.

If checks or other valuable mail does not arrive as expected, contact the issuing agency immediately.

The agency also encourages anyone who believes mail was stolen to call the police immediately. Then, call the Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455, and press 3 to report stolen mail.

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