Mail theft in the Santa Clarita Valley is “running rampant,” according to a spokeswoman for the United States Postal Inspection Service assigned to the SCV.
“Mail theft is running rampant,” Stacia Crane told The Signal Thursday, offering as advice: “We need to harden the target.”
By “hardening the target,” Crane means protecting your mailbox.
“You have to make the target – your mailbox – harder for thieves to get at,” she said. “If you have a lock on your mailbox and your neighbor doesn’t they’re going to go to your neighbor’s mailbox.”
And, “hardening their target” is precisely what Valencia Northpark residents are urging their homeowners association to pursue this week after a recent rash of mail thefts in the neighborhood.
Discussion about the recent mail thefts in the suburban community east of McBean Parkway and south of Copper Hill Drive has dominated chatter on the social media site called, Nextdoor.
One posting on the popular neighborhood app summed up the problem simply as: Mail Theft.
The Northpark couple that posted the notice added this cautionary note: “Please be mindful of your mail. We have had mail theft. Most especially bank statements.
“This is the reason why we hope we can get locked mailboxes asap.”
Phone messages left for representatives of the Northpark HOA at Ross Morgan and Company Inc., Thursday were not returned.
Aside from money being stolen directly, the very real fear behind mail theft is identity theft, Crane said.
Mail theft carries with it the possibility, she said, that thieves could exploit personal information about someone gleaned from the details in the stolen mail, then create fraudulent accounts set up to siphon money from the victim.
Many suspected victims of mail theft receive a letter from the from the US Postal Inspection Service alerting them to the possibility their mail may have been stolen.
Crane reminds people who receive such a notice not to assume they are in fact victims but that they are “suspected” victims.
If a “tray” of mail collected for delivery along a particular mail route – a neighborhood or a street – is stolen, then everyone living in that neighborhood or on that street could expect a letter from the service, notifying them of the bulk mail theft, she said.
“It would be like a range of possible victims,” Crane said, describing the implications of mail stolen in bulk. “If they took it from a (mail) carrier.”
Some Northpark residents suspected of having had their mail stolen received a letter recently from the US Postal Inspection Service explaining that the theft is being investigated.
Crane offered some crucial advice Thursday for mail theft victims: “Get a credit report,” she said.
“If you think that something of vital importance was taken, put a freeze on your account. Get a credit report and check it. Someone could open an account in someone else’s name.
“You need to be cautious,” she said. “You need to protect yourself.”
Northpark mail theft victims, meanwhile, remain abuzz over Santa Clarita Valley’s continued mail theft trend.
One Northpark resident posted this personal report on the Nextdoor app.
“It happened to us – twice. One time, they lucked out and got a box of our new checks. They were caught before they could use any though. Young guy and his girlfriend. They were prosecuted.
“Another time, they took at least one gift card we were given. You can’t leave mail in the box overnight.”
Stacia Crane, with the US Postal Inspection Service, gave the same advice to The Signal Thursday.
Anyone wanting to protect their mail immediately should check out a new “free” service offered to residents in certain zip codes by the US Postal Service, called Informed Delivery.
The service can provide you with black and white images of the mail that will be placed in your mailbox each day.
This way, if mail goes missing, the victim can identify exactly what mail was stolen.
More information about the service can be obtained at this website: https://informeddelivery.usps.com/box/pages/intro/start.action .
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