Capt. Robert Lewis has a message for mail thieves who think they can get away with a serious crime with no serious consequence — your crimes are now being treated as a federal offense.
Santa Clarita Valley’s top cop said he hopes the prospect of serving federal time in prison for a federal offense will deter mail thieves in future.
“So, although we charged them initially at the state level, the federal government came in and filed federal charges,” Lewis said.
Federal prosecution of anyone suspected of stealing mail in the SCV is the way of the future.
“For these people who might think, ‘Oh, yeah, it’s a walk in the park in California,’ we will seek the most serious charges against anyone committing any crime,” Lt. Ignacio Somoano, who runs the Detective Section of the SCV Sheriff’s Station, said Wednesday.
Two people from Bakersfield — a 37-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman — became the first mail theft suspects to be arrested locally and then turned over to federal officials.
“They were arrested on state charges Thursday and on Monday both suspects were turned over to federal authorities,” Somoano said.
“On Monday morning, the U.S. District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. postal inspector took custody of the suspects and filed federal charges of mail theft,” he said.
The pair is now facing federal charges in connection with an arrest made by deputies last Thursday.
On Nov. 29, about 4:45 a.m., deputies patrolling Canyon Country came across a vehicle near the intersection of Whites Canyon Road and Soledad Canyon Road, said Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station.
“Using department resources, deputies checked the license plate number and discovered that the Chrysler sedan was in the system as being ‘stolen,’” she said. “A traffic stop was conducted pending a stolen vehicle investigation.”
Inside the vehicle, deputies found stolen mail, identification cards belonging to different people, mailbox keys, mail locks, narcotics and burglary tools, Miller said.
The two were arrested on suspicion of several felony charges, transported and booked at the SCV Sheriff’s Station.
Seized in the operation were three garbage bags stuffed with mail allegedly stolen from mail boxes in the SCV, deputies said.