of Focus >
the USPS and Mail Theft
do USPS Postal Inspectors do?
They are the focal point for all investigations into mail theft
and associated identity theft, fraud associated with mail theft,
and all other associated crimes. They investigate the crimes, and
aid in the prosecution of all mail thieves.
USPS Postal Inspectors actively working on mail theft in our area?
Absolutely. The USPS Postal Inspectors have over 100 inspectors
throughout Northern California, and six (6) inspectors assigned
to an area spanned by the following counties: Alameda, Contra Costa,
Solano, Lake, and Napa. There have been 153 complaints of mail theft
in the Montclair hill area this year (September 2002 to September
2003), resulting in several investigations and two major prosecutions.
are Postal Inspectors assigned and how many serve our area?
They are assigned by zip code. A portion of one inspector
is assigned to 94611.
mail theft is such a growing crime, why isn’t a more diligent effort
applied to investigation, arrest and conviction?
It’s a question of resources. Recent budget cuts affect
everything from the number of investigators that can be hired, to
the number of courtrooms available for trying cases. Thefts are
rising while resources to battle the war are shrinking.
I report mail theft to my local Post Office?
No. Local post offices are not equipped or staffed to respond
to mail theft or keep records on mail theft. The local post offices
forward any mail theft reports to the USPS Postal Inspectors. You
will get more effective results if you report mail theft directly
to the USPS Postal Inspectors at their Hotline
role does the local postal service have regarding mail theft?
Mail carriers have been instructed to call evidence of
any suspicious activity to the station, and to call the police directly
if they observe a theft in progress.
They have also been instructed to be sure that mail is dropped securely
into locking boxes, rather than leaving it hanging out.
do I know if my stolen mail has resulted in identity theft?
If you suspect identity theft, the USPS Postal Inspector
will provide you with guidelines and a course of action. There are
also lots of internet resources. One way is to use Google
or Yahoo on the
Web to search for "Identity Theft Victim."
is a likely sentence for a mail theft conviction?
Sentences are incongruously light: a drug offense will
keep an offender behind bars longer than mail and identity theft.
The federal statute allows a 5-year sentence, but that is rarely
can we avoid mail carriers putting mail only partially into the
locked mailboxes, thereby defeating the purpose of the locked mailbox?
Carriers are trained to insert mail completely into the
box. If they don't contact Stationmaster Audrey Osby at the Piedmont
Post Office (which covers the Montclair satellite). She has publicly
stated she will take care of the problem.
carriers leave oversized mail and packages beside the mailbox. Shouldn’t
they bring it to the door?
The USPS is not required to deliver to a door. The carrier
is instructed to leave a notice in your mailbox indicating undelivered
oversized mail, then take the undelivered mail back to the Piedmont
Post Office. You pick up the mail from the Post Office (do not check
the re-deliver box). Some carriers may believe they’re doing the
resident a favor by leaving oversized mail at the mailbox and avoiding
the need for a trip to the post office. This is contrary to their
the USPS allow moving mailboxes to a location that will more easily
allow monitoring for theft?
You must obtain approval to move your mailbox: You may
propose a location change through the stationmaster at the Piedmont
Post Office. Following are basic regulations about locating a mailbox:
must keep the approach to their mailboxes clear of obstructions
to allow safe access for delivery. If USPS employees are impeded
in reaching a mail receptacle, the postmaster may withdraw delivery
- A curbside
mailbox must be placed to allow safe and convenient delivery by
carriers without leaving their vehicles.
do I put my mail on Vacation Hold?
Mail can be placed
on hold on the Internet by going to www.usps.com.
Click on "Hold Mail" and you'll be taken to a secure site
for entering your information. You can also pick up a "Hold
Mail" card at any post office branch.
the USPS automatically deliver mail at the end of a Vacation Hold?
If you anticipate that the accumulated vacation mail will
require an additional box from the USPS and will not fit directly
into your mailbox, do not check "Have Mail
Delivered." Pick it up the mail from the Post Office in person.
been told that a white look-alike postal jeep is responsible for
much of our mail theft. Is this true?
The USPS auctions off postal jeeps to the public after
stripping off the USPS insignia. Of course, some people buy the
jeeps for legitimate uses.
white unmarked jeeps and other vehicles are often seen leaving fliers
and business cards on mailboxes. Is this legitimate or a ruse for
looking innocent while stealing mail? Is it legal?
As to legality, any advertising on a mailbox or its support is prohibited.
Regulations state “No part of a mail receptacle may be used to deliver
any matter not bearing postage, including items or matter placed
upon, supported by, attached to, hung from, or inserted into a mail
receptacle. Any mailable matter not bearing postage and found as
described above is subject to the same postage as would be paid
if it were carried by mail."