West Seattle Crime Watch: Mail-thief alert

Out of the WSB inbox, from Don, who wants you to be aware of what happened to him:

In the neighborhood due south of Alaska Junction’s Jefferson Square, we discovered that mail had been taken from our box, opened, and gone through, in search of credit card information and anything else of value. The perps tossed the remainder in our yard, which was ironic, as one thing of value turned out to be some expensive train tickets for an upcoming vacation trip. The only thing we actually lost was one of those fake credit-card-like things on a junk-mail come-on from American Express, but we found pieces of the neighbor’s mail near our house as well. When we mentioned this to USPS personnel, they told us to call the police and file a report, and let the local postmaster know as well.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT. These creeps take advantage of unlocked mailboxes and have no problem committing local and federal crimes. They are probably working neighborhoods across the area.

In a later e-mail exchange, Don told us police would not take a phoned-in report because nothing of value was missing. We will be checking with local police leadership after the holiday to see if there is a baseline for reports to be taken in this kind of situation; Don’s filing a report online with USPS, in the meantime.

10 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Mail-thief alert"

  • mellaw6565 August 30, 2008 (6:52 pm)

    That’s why we switched to a locked box now – much safer and no further incidents. McClendon’s has them pretty cheap.

  • JoB August 30, 2008 (7:20 pm)

    how would you know for sure what’s missing?

  • Aim August 30, 2008 (8:09 pm)

    Please learn from what happened to me. My mail was stolen (from a LOCKED box – they filled out a change of address at the post office) and they got enough medical bills and bank statements to have all the info needed to open accounts all over the state under my name before I ever even knew there was an issue. My roommate’s mail was still coming to the house, so I didn’t notice anything was missing when mine stopped appearing.

    It’s been about 7 years and I am STILL trying to clean up the messes. The address to which my mail was sent was on the same street, so often when credit bureaus “confirm” that I actually had an account with random internet or cable provider #123, they miss that it was 10 blocks away, and “confirm” that it is indeed my responsibility. I’ve been fighting this constantly, spending countless hours and dollars to try to regain my credit.

    Sign up for credit monitoring NOW. Your bank likely offers a cheap 3-bureau monitoring package. In addition, call all three bureaus and put a fraud alert on your name/social security number. Watch your reports very closely and fight ANYTHING that you don’t recognize.

    Contact me through my blog if you need help getting started with some of this stuff. It’s a lot of work but letting it go “until there is a problem” is a huge mistake.

    Sorry this happened to you.

  • JimmyG August 31, 2008 (9:00 am)

    A reminder on a similar topic, do NOT leave your outgoing mail at your mailbox for pick-up.

    I’m still surprised people do this (my next door neighbor being one of them).

  • Jenny August 31, 2008 (3:10 pm)

    Aim, WOW. And I thought my hubby was being paranoid when he bought a paper shredder so we could shred all the incoming mail that has our names attached to our address! (I mean, the pages that are destined for the recycling bin. ;))

  • PSPS August 31, 2008 (10:00 pm)

    Years ago, when I was looking for a house in West Seattle, I told the real estate lady not to bother me with any house that didn’t have door delivery of mail. So I have a mail slot that dumps the mail inside the house. I’d never live where my only option was mail delivered to an outside location.

  • Jesse September 1, 2008 (6:26 pm)

    I thought tampering with someone’s mail was a federal offense? I’m surprised the police would not take a report on this.

  • DonS September 3, 2008 (9:32 am)

    Point about knowing what’s missing (or not) – should’ve claimed that nothing seemed to be missing, and I wasn’t expecting anything like cc bills or paycheck stubs at that time.

    And sure, tampering with mail is a federal offense – if the perp gets caught and/or the local law enforcement authorities deem catching said perp to be a high-priority item. Clearly, local law enforcement doesn’t; they’re undermanned and overburdened with other things as it is. Unless there’s DNA evidence on the torn envelopes, there’s not much chance of that happening. C’est la vie.

  • DonS September 3, 2008 (9:38 am)

    I don’t know 100% for sure what, if anything, went missing, other than the obviously fake AmEx card that came in as a junk-mail come-on. I wasn’t expecting any bills, renewed cards, or checks in the mail at the time, though.

    Tampering with the mail is a federal offense if the perp gets caught. In order for that to happen, it would have to be a high priority for our understaffed, overburdened police force. So it goes. Mailbox is now locked, like it should’ve been in the first place.

  • Jenny DB November 10, 2008 (4:57 pm)

    That was smart to switch to a locked mailbox. mail theft is a huge problem across the country and particularly in the pacific northwest. the reality is it is highly underreported because people often dont notice when their mail goes missing.

    It is important for consumers to be educated when selecting a locking mailbox. as more and more people switch to locking mailboxes, ID thieves are turning to new methods for stealing mail. Now they often just go around with a crow bar and easily pry open those “cheap locking mailboxes” for example the curbside mail safe.. that one you can actually pry open with your hands.. my company has a video of a 150 lb male doing this.

    Anyway, a secure locking mailbox is the first defense against mail identity theft.. and while other precautions must be taken (such as the use of a paper shredder!!) you know you can’t shred what you dont’ get!

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