I am receiving many phone calls regarding mail box thefts, mail box vandalism and asking what to do if victimized. I did a Foothills web site post on this on August 8, 2015 under “Frequently Asked Questions…” that you can refer to for information. To clarify a few of the questions that I am being asked by several Foothills Area Command residents here are some things to note:
1) APD treats mail theft as a larceny and mail box damage as a vandalism/criminal damage to property incident. Felony level charges for criminal damage to property kick in at $1,000 in damages to the mail box, not the mail that may have been stolen from inside a mail box, but the box itself.
2) Sorry, I cannot post daily mail theft rates for the Foothills Area Command and include them with the Daily Watch/Property Crime Notes. The way the crime is reported and categorized, I do not have the software to do this and it would be an inordinately cumbersome task that would probably take an entire day to do.
3) Mail theft is handled by the Federal branch of law enforcement, who charge persons with mail theft.
4) The United States Postal Services needs to be informed of any thefts from mail boxes or damage to mail boxes. The USPS Postal Inspectors do the follow up on those cases.
I recommend citizens do not leave outgoing mail in boxes and do not put up the ‘red flag’ on mailboxes, but take outgoing mail to a secured USPS drop off point. If at home when the mail carrier makes deliveries, try to go out and be at the box when the mail carrier delivers. Locking mail boxes are recommended, but these can be pried open or breached, but it’s a step in deterring or delaying a criminal who wants to steal your mail. The USPS has post office boxes (and some private vendors) that may be an option for you and your lifestyle and give you peace of mind that your mail is in a secured depository.
An important component, of course, is Neighborhood Watch on the block. A recognized Neighborhood Watch group with the APD Crime Prevention Unit will have members already trained in how to spot suspicious persons or vehicles, how to safely report to APD 242-COPS or 911 and will have the Neighborhood Watch signage bracketing the block putting those who enter on notice via the signage that the block has been trained and is partnering with local law enforcement.
I hope these tips and clarifications help — with tax refund time coming this type of criminal activity may increase — use the tips that work for you and your family.
Jill Garcia, Crime Prevention Specialist / ICPS, APD – Foothills Area Command