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Insight from the West Fargo PD: Avoiding mail theft

A recent news story from the Minneapolis area covered the arrest of a man and a woman for theft of personal mail. The subjects had been following the mail delivery vehicle in a particular neighborhood each day for more than a week and removing mail from the homes where they saw a delivery being made. A break in the case occurred when the two were caught on video stealing mail from a home delivery box. The thieves were in possession of a large amount of mail both in their vehicle and at their home. Police say the subjects were looking for cash, checks and credit cards.

Deliveries to our homes can be the target of theft. If you are expecting the delivery of an item of significant value you may want to consider requiring written receipt of delivery. The item will be held until a person is home to receive the parcel. Other options include requesting a scheduled delivery time for the item or having the item delivered to you at work. Having a secure delivery box can also provide additional protection for your daily mail service.

It is not only your incoming mail or packages that can be a target of theft. Placing your outgoing mail in an area where it can be seen by the public invites theft. Examples of those areas would include envelopes or packages placed atop of mail boxes in an apartment hallway or mail attached with a clothes pin to the outside of a home delivery box. Curb side mail boxes can also be a target. By raising the mail box flag you are telling the postman, and everyone else, that you have outgoing mail. To avoid theft, use the US Postal Service drop boxes that are conveniently placed within the community. Most grocery stores also provide postal drop off sites at their service counter.

The size of a package or envelope and its markings make some items more interesting to thieves. Cards for special occasions such as birthdays or graduations have a unique shape and most often contain cash or checks. Envelopes addressed to utility or credit card companies or to banks are likely to contain checks. Any box or bulk envelope is a target as they may contain anything from a birthday present to a person’s prescription medication. If you are expecting a delivery, or sending one out, follow up to make sure the item made it to the desired destination.

You can reduce the chances of you being a victim of theft. If you are going to be gone from home for a day or two, request the post office stop deliveries or ask someone to secure your mail and packages until you return home. Always use a secure mail box or post office drop box to send your outgoing mail. Utilize special mail handling services to protect and ensure the proper delivery of important correspondence and valuable packages. As always, be aware of unusual activity and report it to law enforcement.

Michael Reitan is the assistant West Fargo police chief