Tens of thousands of dollars in checks as well as bank credit and debit cards were taken from cluster mailboxes mostly under cloak of darkness in the Woodward Park neighborhoods and newer subdivisions to the west.
They are part of more than 300 thefts citywide in the past 12 months. A number of those thefts are being tied to a couple Manteca Police arrested in mid-August.
The arrest of the suspects — Devina Olsen, 33 and Guy Zielske, 28 — of Manteca, however, hasn’t stopped mail theft in Manteca. Police report more cluster and individual mail boxes continue to be emptied with the use of a key and some by a crowbar.
Zielske remains in San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp where he is awaiting court arraignment for a number of felonies for possession of IDs, possession of stolen property, possession of a controlled substance for sale, forgery and possession of burglary tools. He is charged with 10 felonies – the maximum allowed — including having the IDs of more than 10 persons with the intent to defraud. Zielske also had an outstanding felony warrant for evading a police officer in Alameda County.
Olsen, 33, is also charged with possession of IDs from more than 10 persons, possession of stolen property, possession of a controlled substance for sale, forgery and for possession of burglary tools. She is believed to have been bailed out, however that was not able to be confirmed at press time.
The couple was arrested in their small house at the rear of a residence in the 400 block of Martha Street where they had security cameras installed so they could see officers approaching just prior to their arrest. Manteca Detective Aaron Montoya said it was obvious the two were continuing to research the passwords of items they had stolen by calling the victims and pretending to be bank or IRS officials checking on their accounts.
Montoya said he sent out letters to all the victims making them aware they had located their cards and ID information. Some didn’t know their accounts had been compromised, he said. Bank debit cards that had been in the stolen mail amounted to $5,000 to $10,000 in losses for each one, he added. The detective explained that the banks only cover losses in checking and savings accounts, not cash that can be taken out with debit cards.
Montoya said that this yearlong investigation of mail theft has been one of the most in depth investigations he has had in the last 17 years. Thieves have found new cards in the mail that had yet to be activated – and they would activate them.
“The Costco City Cards are popular,” he said. “To test a card the thieves will often charge $1 at a gas pump that will tell them if the card is good.”
One of the thefts in early November of last year was witnessed by a home owner who gave chase as five Manteca officers responded to her 911 call about a mail theft from a cluster of boxes. She gave the description as an adult male wearing a white shirt with green vest and jeans going down Hyde Park Lane in northwest Manteca where he tried to jump a fence in the 1800 block as he carried a large black garbage bag.
He was reportedly seen getting into a two door, green Acura finally parking in the 1900 block of Crutchfield Lane but officers were unable to locate the subject, according to the report.
A sampling of other reports of recent mail thefts are as follows:
On June 17 the neighbor of a mail theft victim captured the suspect on his surveillance video in the 1200 block of Bordeaux Lane. Also in June a resident in the 1600 block of Highway 99 Frontage Road reported the theft of his W-2 form from his mail box.
Also on June 17 mail taken from a mail box in the 800 block of Alpine Avenue included a check that was washed and rewritten by the thief.
A cluster mail box in the 1900 block of Orme Lane was pried open on June 3 with no mail left inside, police said. Each report has similar stories and consequences about the mail thefts from Manteca residents.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email email@example.com