Some 120 mail thefts in nine cities were solved following a high-speed pursuit by Manteca Police officers at speeds above 105 miles per hour Wednesday night.
The chase ended in Modesto with the arrest of two suspects. Detective Aaron Montoya noted the pursuit avoided the freeways.
Arrested at Riverdale Park in Modesto were Meliton Coronado, 34, of Modesto and Christina Talbert, 40, also of Modesto. They were charged with conspiracy in the thefts of 120 cluster mail boxes and with the possession of numerous IDs with the intention to defraud and for the possession of a stolen red Jeep Compass that they were driving.
The couple was booked into jail shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday in French Camp.
Coronado was also charged with evading police in the pursuit that was eventually joined by units from the California Highway Patrol near the end of the estimated 20-mile chase.
Detective Montoya said Coronado cut through an orchard during the chase in an attempt to lose the pursuing officers but the Manteca officers’ persistence paid off.
The thefts from the cluster mail boxes occurred in Delhi, Patterson, Manteca, Modesto, Turlock, Newman, Hilmar and Ceres.
The veteran Manteca officer said the mail thefts hit a peak in July and have been on a decrease since the end of the summer with citizens becoming increasing vigilant about keeping their eyes on the mail boxes in all the cities.
Coronado is being held in San Joaquin County Jail in lieu of $320,000 bail with Talbert’s bail set at $220,000. Coronado is scheduled to appear in the Manteca Branch of the San Joaquin County Superior Court at 1:25 p.m. Dec. 26. There is nothing scheduled in court for Talbert.
It was the latest in a series of mail theft arrests.
In October Ripon Police broke up a suspected mail theft ring thanks to a call from a grocery store about a suspicious check presented by a customer that subsequently led to 1,100 pieces of stolen mail from Manteca and Elk Grove. Three suspects from Stockton were arrested.
In the months before that Manteca Police made arrests that solved three major identify theft investigations with more than 1,000 victims.
What to do to
exposure to mail theft
Sherri Adams — the Chief District Attorney that oversees the prosecution of what she terms an “identity theft epidemic” in San Joaquin County — has strongly urged Manteca residents and those in nearby communities to assume their mail boxes are at high risk of being targeted by thieves.
She has stressed the importance of not putting outgoing mail in your mailbox
Adams said the surge in ID theft that shows no sign of abating makes it imperative that people take steps to reduce their exposure to costly fraud that includes mail theft.
Those steps include:
uTaking outgoing mail and dropping it in a blue postal box or into a drop slot inside a post office.
uRetrieve your incoming mail every day with no exceptions. Adams herself has been a victim of mail theft herself and makes it a point no matter who tired she is or how late she gets home to always retrieve her mail.
uMinimizing your “foot print” by having no more than three credit cards — one for larger purchases, one that has a fairly low spending limit, and one that is an ATM card to access bank accounts.
uRecord all of your credit card information and how to contact firms in a safe place at home so you can immediately call them when you either lose cards or if they are stolen.
uDon’t ever provide information on any of your accounts to someone that calls you even if it is PG&E threatening to cut off your power in three days. Instead hang up, go to your statement and call the number on that and not one that the caller may have given you — and asked the representative that answers whether they are trying to contact you.
uCheck your credit report twice a year to look for unauthorized activity. Adams noted banks typically provide one free credit report a year.