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Mail theft: Recognizing it and reporting it

Staff ~ 3/25/2015

NORTH VALLEY – Waiting on an important piece of mail can be frustrating. Worse than the waiting, however, is confirming that it was sent and has had plenty of time to arrive but you haven’t received it.

If you think you’ve been a victim of mail theft, file a report with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. While the Postal Inspection Service can’t guarantee the return of your stolen items, theft reports establish a pattern and can help avoid the theft being repeated. File a mail theft complaint at https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov or call 1(800) ASK-USPS if you believe your mail has been stolen.

If you see someone tampering with mailboxes or stealing mail, the Post Office asks you to call 911 and report it the crime immediately. You can make further reports to the Postal Inspection Service.

“The first call should be to that first responder,” said David Rupert, part of the Corporate Communications team for the United States Post Office, Western Area.

Having a locked mailbox provides a level of protection from mail theft; many neighborhoods have locked cluster mailboxes. No mailbox is entirely tamperproof, however, and the Post Office recommends always picking up mail promptly after it is delivered, particularly if checks, credit cards, legal documents, or other important items are expected.

If you don’t already live in a neighborhood with locked cluster mailboxes, you can get them installed if you’re willing to pay for them.

“The conversion cost is usually born by the homeowner,” said Rupert. “They (neighbors) can get together and split the cost,” he added, noting that the Post Office could help with the details of the installation.

Cluster mailboxes have a specific section for small-to-medium-sized packages. This keeps packages under lock and key until recipients can pick them up, providing more security. Large packages generally go to the nearest Post Office; in the north valley area, this is the Daisy Mountain Post Office, located at 44047 N 43rd Ave. For packages delivered directly to your door, the Post Office recommends having packages sent with signatures required so that they’ll only be delivered when you are home. The Post Office also recommends tracking your packages so you can estimate when they will arrive.

Even with theft precautions, packages can still disappear. In that case, the Post Office asks that a theft report be filed as soon as possible through the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The Post Office also recommends contacting your credit card company for potential reimbursement through purchase-protection service.

Problems with mail delivery may be caused not by theft but by irregular delivery. Residents can report consistent delivery issues to the Post Office customer service division. Common delivery issues include ongoing lack of mail delivery on a particular day of the week, getting someone else’s mail repeatedly, someone else getting your mail repeatedly, or mail arriving damaged or opened. If you’re experiencing these or other mail delivery problems, call USPS General Customer Service at 1(800) 275-8777.