A citizen tip about potential mail thieves led to the arrest of two women on Wednesday that were in possession of mail that had been stolen out of a Lathrop mailbox.
According to a release by the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Department, 21-year-old Lexi Marine Urbina and 31-year-old May Yang were arrested were arrested by Lathrop Police Services deputies and booked into the San Joaquin County Jail on mail theft and possession of stolen property.
While Lathrop hasn’t had the issues with mail theft consistently that Manteca has over the course of the last year, Police Chief James Hood said that it comes in spurts and has been on the rise lately – making the collaring of the two suspects that were identified by their reported license plate number that much more significant.
“We have periods where it becomes hot and then it goes away but it always seems to come back,” Hood said. “And when we get hit, there is a rash of them so when it started happening again we began to work with community members to get information as quickly as possible.
“They had reportedly hit a mailbox up the street and when we knew about that, we were table to locate them on their way to another mailbox and make the arrest.”
Much like the mailbox break-ins in Manteca, Lathrop has also been the target of people who appear to have a key that allows access to most of the pubic mail clusters in the community – which, according to local Postmaster, likely came as the result of somebody removing the back of the mailbox and using the locking mechanism to reverse engineer the same key that postal carriers use.
They have been hesitant to change the locks on all of the mailboxes because if they use the same style lock, they’ll simply remove that as well and do the same thing all over again.
Hood said that he recommends that people not leave their mail in their mailbox any longer than they absolutely have to, and suggests doing what he does – getting a separate post office box for anything financial so that it’s kept behind lock and key at the end of the business day. He also suggests that people who are mailing any form of payment – especially those that include checks or personal information – do so by taking inside of the post office and handing it directly to an employee.
“Even the blue postal boxes have been hit before and people are very creative with what they’ll do with what they find,” he said. “All it takes is a little bit of acid to remove the name on the pay line and write in another one and you have an official check that was signed by the account holder, so we want to be careful about where they leave things like that.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.