Mailbox Theft Brings Federal Action, 27 People ChargedBy: Sarah Parrott - January 15, 2014
Snail mail isn’t as popular as it once was, especially with the prevalence and ease of email, but it is still a useful, important part of many a person’s life. After all, how else would you be able to get your Amazon packages, or send tacky Christmas cards? A group of folks with bad intentions in the California area didn’t have their eyes on those goodies, though; when they took to robbing mailboxes, they were on the search for prescription medications, credit card information, and checks.
Mail theft had been a problem in the Central Valley area of California for a majority of the 2013 year, and federal action has finally managed to put a stop to it. Postal investigators, coupled with police officers, targeted large groups of mail thieves, who would rob mailboxes in bulk. Sacramento, Fresno and Bakersfield were hit particularly hard during the crime ring’s reign.
The thieves targeted multiple-slot boxes and post office lobbies, swiping goods from many people in one swoop. They also broke into postal trucks, mostly in order to acquire postal keys that they then counterfeited. They were after checks, credit card information, and other personal identification. All together, the thieves were able to rack up about $400,000 in total losses.
U.S. Attorney Ben Wagner proposed that the astounding amount of mail theft in the area was due to the large population of drug users, as well as the history of methamphetamine abuse in the area. Saying that addicts will often resort to theft to fuel their drug habit, Wagner pointed out that the large, multi-slot boxes that were repeatedly targeted were “tempting targets if you’re a mail thief.”
Gregory Campbell Jr., deputy chief postal inspector for Western Field Operations, agreed with Wagner, saying, “Where there’s meth, there’s mail [theft], and there is a correlation between those who are on substance abuse and going out to do things to accommodate their habit. And it just so happens that mail theft is one of those things.”
27 people had charges brought against them in total. Six of these people are being charged in the Kern and Sacramento counties of California, while the other 21 are facing federal charges. Nine of those 21 have been sentenced to 4 years in prison, each, and the others can expect similar results, since the maximum penalty for mail theft is 5 years.
Image via YouTube.