Thieves for three consecutive days have stolen mail from nearly two dozen cluster mailboxes putting more than 200 Manteca households at risk for identity theft.
The upswing in mail theft that started Friday when eight cluster mailboxes were broken into continued on Saturday and Monday when 13 more cluster boxes were pried up and mail and small packages stolen.
The mail theft is happening throughout the community but the majority are in neighborhoods south of the 120 Bypass
The latest round of mail theft reports to the Manteca Police Department began on Saturday shortly after midnight in the 2100 block of Heirloom Place with the second occurring in the 2100 block of Brennan Place. Just before dawn another cluster mailbox was reported to have been entered and mail taken at 5:17 a.m. in the 2100 block of Woodbine Avenue. Then at 6:19 a.m. another mailbox was reported to have been pried open in the 2400 block of Gibraltar Drive.
At 8:23 a.m. another was broken into in the 1600 block of Cache Avenue. Shortly after10 a.m. yet another mail theft was reported in the 300 block of Tannehill Drive. Minutes later a resident called from the 1500 block of Queensland Avenue about his mail being taken. Shortly before 7 p.m. Friday another irritated resident called from the 1600 block of Sparrowhawk Street.
A cluster of five mailbox thefts were reported Sunday morning from 6:21 a.m. in the 2100 block of Portofino Street to the 1000 block of Mission Ridge Drive, the 1600 block of Bella Terra Drive, the third in the 1500 block of La Scala Way and the fourth occurring in the 600 block of Sonora Avenue. The last mail theft reported Sunday night occurred in the 2300 block of Portofino Street – all within about three hours.
The last in the series of mail thefts was reported shortly after 1 p.m. on Monday in the 1400 block of Highland Court.
The current surge comes after a period of relatively few incidents. That said, Manteca Police have stressed the need for people to be extra vigilant with their mail. In the past two years alone, just three cases of identity theft handled by the Manteca Police Department involve more than 1,000 victims
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.
uRetrieving your incoming mail every day with no exceptions. Adams 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.
uRemembering that the Internal Revenue Service does not call taxpayers out of the blue — period. Their communication is always by snail mail although have an established conversation going with the IRS they may conduct that by phone.
uNever fall for the “grandma scam” where a young relative is calling up in desperate need of help. Always try to call the parents or even the young relative in question back using numbers that you have and not the ones the caller provides to try and verify if there is an issue.