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Help police catch brazen mail thieves

Security video shows culprits in the act ripping off mailboxes

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Help police catch brazen mail thieves

This is a frame from the video that captured two mail thieves in the act.

Manteca Police Department/


POSTED August 13, 2009 2:53 a.m.
It was a bold and brazen act designed to ultimately steal the identity of law-abiding citizens.

Two young people – a man sporting a Mohawk and a female who tried unsuccessfully to hide her face with a hood – broke into the locked courtyard where residential mailboxes are situated at an apartment complex in the 800 block of East Atherton Drive. The crime took place around 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8.

A video provided by the Manteca Police captures the couple trying to jimmy open the wrought iron gate. After one unsuccessful attempt, the male returns while the girl apparently acted as a lookout. Once he gets the gate open, the girl joins him and they start prying open any mailboxes that they can. At one point she puts a hood over her head trying to hide her face from the surveillance camera.

The two eventually leave carrying piles of mail.

The South County Crimestoppers are offering up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of the two individuals. Anonymous tips can be left by calling 209-823-4636.

Numerous unsuccessful attempts to break into mail boxes at the United States Postal Annex on Industrial Park Drive prompted the closure of the lobby except when there are postal workers in the building.

Police warn against a possible uptick in thefts from mailboxes — including residnetial cluster boxes in neighborhoods. Several years ago more than a half zone cluster boxes were pried open. A postal drop box also was taken, opened and dumped in the country. It also was common for thieves to reach into nearly full postal drop boxes and grab mail.

Police advise residents who have unsecured mailboxes — typically those that leave the mail drop outside of a home and not through the door and not in a neighborhood cluster box — to secure a rented mailbox either from the post office or a commercial operation.

Manteca Police handles roughly 150 stolen identification cases a year. And one of the leading ways for crooks to steal your ID and cost you well over $1,000 — even if fraudulent charges are covered by credit card companies — is your mail. Anything with your name on it and any form of identification — account number or even numbers assigned to you by an unsolicited credit card offer — can be used by someone to steal your identification.

The Federal Trade Commission indicates there are 10 million victims of identity theft a year in the United States with a good number of the cases involving serious breaches that take the victim an average of 175 hours to clear up their credit with average losses not covered by financial institutions pegged at $1,500.

Manteca Police detectives note that the figure is accurate but there are also other costs not factored into the equation. Even those who have loses covered incur significant expenses. Besides the need to obtain credit reports, they will invest around 175 hours during the workday to contact creditors by phone and mail.

Fraud and ID theft are two of Manteca’s fastest growing crimes. There are 10 to 15 open cases of ID theft at any given time.

Police note spending $20 for a paper shredder is one of the best investments you can make.

Police said you should not leave mail in an unsecured box for postal carriers to collect. It makes it easier for thieves to cause havoc with your credit when they not only have an account number and statement but a check with your bank information. You should also check your mail box on a regular basis as incoming mail provides a wealth of information for ID theft criminals.

Police also recommend that you drop outgoing mail off inside the post office or in the large postal boxes placed around town. They caution, however, not to leave mail if you can see other mail stacked up from the opening.
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