Collection boxes in Platt Park, Washington Park have been broken into

Mailbox theft can lead to fraud


In July, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service began to see an uptick in damage to blue mail collection boxes in the south central part of Denver. The boxes were being broken into with mail potentially being stolen.

Eric Manuel, a postal inspector and public information officer with the Denver branch of the inspection service, said the Platt Park and Washington Park neighborhoods have been hit the hardest. One of the biggest obstacles with these investigations, he said, is making sure people report it to the right place.

“That’s the first challenge — they don’t know that we exist,” Manuel said.

Any crimes involving mail or the postal service, is a federal issue. Crimes involving mail in particular go to Postal Inspection. Oftentimes, people who are stealing mail are looking for information to steal someone’s identity, Manuel said.

Any stolen mail, whether it’s out of a personal mailbox or a neighborhood blue postal box, needs to be reported to Postal Inspection. People should also report the theft to their local police department because the crimes may be connected to an open investigation already happening, Manuel said.

Postal Inspection has been working to reach out on the most recent damages on Nextdoor, an online networking service for neighborhoods. While the page helps to inform neighborhoods about the postal break-ins, it also can help inspectors find potential victims who may not have known about the issue.

With new technology, most people are notified by their banks when fraudulent activity has happened. Banks can often clear up the issue right away. From there, Manuel said victims should still file a report with police to help prevent it from happening again. The difficult part is knowing where your information was stolen. While some information can be stolen via the mail, there also are data breaches happening to retailers such as the one that affected Target customers in 2013.

“People’s stuff is compromised a number of different ways,” Manuel said. “People often don’t think about that last step.”

If people are worried their mail is being stolen, Manuel said the safest options are to take outgoing items directly to a post office or hand it to a carrier. If people are using blue boxes, Manuel said it’s best to drop mail off right before the last pickup time, otherwise the mail sits in the box until a carrier gets it. This makes the mail item vulnerable to theft.


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