Law enforcement officers announced this week that mail thefts in the Santa Clarita Valley have “sharply declined” after local sheriff’s deputies joined forces with US Postal Inspection officers in response to the crime trend.
The announcement was posted on a Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Station’s social media site under the headline: US Postal Inspectors & SCV Sheriff’s detectives team up to slow down mail theft trend.
“The US Postal Inspector’s Office, with help from our sheriff’s station, has made great strides in fighting the mail theft trend and as a result, thefts of mail have sharply declined,” Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station wrote.
“However, we do ask that residents remain vigilant and check their mail on a daily basis,” she said.
The announcement comes on the heels of several incidents of mail theft reported by sheriff’s deputies, the most recent being an arrest Sunday morning, on Nov. 5, of a Las Vegas woman on suspicion of unlawful mail theft.
As a response to the increase in property crimes to residences and vehicles in the SCV, deputies who arrested the woman had been conducting a nighttime burglary suppression operation at the time, Miller said.
“This (particular) operation was conducted this past Saturday night that went into Sunday morning. Deputies utilized unmarked patrol cars during the operation and they looked for any suspicious activity, she said.
“Early Sunday morning around 1: 30 a.m.,, deputies observed two adults near Central Park on Bouquet Canyon Road.
“Deputies made contact with the duo and found that the female adult, Cedar Smith, age 20, of Las Vegas had narcotics paraphernalia and mail that was not in her name, some of which was unopened.
“Some of the mail,” Miller said. “Contained banking information. Deputies arrested the female for mail theft and narcotics paraphernalia.”
Smith, who listed her occupation as “rapper,” had her bail set at $5,000.
Her arrest is just the latest involving allegations of stolen mail.
Three weeks ago, mail thieves ransacked between 80 and 100 mailboxes in Stevenson Ranch early Friday morning, provoking some residents to stop mail delivery until they install locked mailboxes.
About 1 a.m. on Oct. 20, thieves drove down at least four streets on the western periphery of Stevenson Ranch, where homes back onto a wilderness tract, and looted mailboxes. The streets hit were on Wallace Place, Wyatt Lane, Kendall Lane and Brooks Circle.
When officials with the US Postal Inspection service were asked about the incident, Stacy Crane, spokeswoman for the service – which serves as the law enforcement arm of the US Postal Service – said the rate of that particular crime is only expected to increase as the holiday season approaches.
Crane had previously described SCV’s mail theft trend as “running rampant.”
When asked about residents switching to locked mailboxes, she said: “We (U.S. Postal Service) recommend them.”
Crane urges anyone interested in switching from the unlocked flag-up/flag-down mailbox to a locked mailbox to visit the U.S. Postal Service website for a list of recommended locked mailboxes.
Some of the locked mailboxes cost about $100 but often include installation, she said.
“The locked mailboxes are just the same as a lock for the front door of your house,” Crane said.
“With the holiday season approaching, there will be more thieves out there taking advantage of unsecured mail,” she said. “Don’t leave packages out in the open.”
With the holiday season approaching, US Postal Inspectors teamed up with local sheriff’s deputies.
In April, Crane told The Signal: “Mail theft is running rampant. 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.”
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 U.S. Postal Inspection Service alerting them to the possibility their mail may have been stolen.
Deputies have issued some advice of their own when it comes to securing mail.
Miller recommended on her social media post:
-If you want to avoid the risk of a package theft, have your package delivered to the local Post Office.
-Be mindful that USPS does deliver Amazon packages on Sundays. Check your front porch as soon as you believe a package is delivered.
“We can all do our part to help the Post Office and each other, by keeping an eye on our local letter carrier’s vehicle,” Miller said.
“In some neighborhoods, the letter carrier parks their vehicle and delivers mail on foot. If you see someone who appears to be tampering with an unattended mail truck, please call the sheriff’s department immediately, she said.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt