Mail theft is a felony – and it should be!
There are already 2437 victims on the mail theft report in 2016 alone, but in fact, there are much more unreported ones – the mail theft problem is much more serious than you could have thought.
So be careful! Don’t be one of them – or never again!
Learn the 8 quick tips inside to prevent mail theft and get it out of your life forever.
Is Mail Theft a Federal Crime?
Mail theft is defined as a crime in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and most other countries.
And there are two things you need to know to understand it, namely the mail theft definition and the mail theft punishment.
#1. What is mail theft?
Mail theft is the stealing and intercepting of any piece of a mail, including the letter, postal card, package, bag, identity information, or any other article or thing contained.
Refer to U.S. Code § 1708 to get a more accurate and comprehensive view of it.
#2. What’s the mail theft punishment?
The mail theft punishment could be a fine, imprisonment, or both according to the specific clause it violates, and the country you live in.
Take the US, UK, Canada, and Australia as examples:
Mail theft penalty in the US: Mail theft is a federal offense in the US, and individuals found guilty of mail theft can be fined up to $250,000 or imprisoned for a period up to five years or both. (Mail theft code: U.S. Code § 1708 from Cornell Law School LII)
Mail theft penalty in the UK: The mail thieves shall be liable to penal servitude for life or any term not less than three years, or to imprisonment, with or without hard labor, for any term not exceeding two years. (Mail theft code: Post Office Act 1908 from Legislation.gov.uk)
Mail theft penalty in Canada and Australia: The maximum sentence for mail theft remains 10 years’ imprisonment. (Canada Mail theft code: R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46; Australia mail theft code: Criminal Code Act 1995)
How to Prevent Mail Theft?
Mail theft is a huge threat to your property and identity: the passport, tax receipt, and cash could easily become the target of thieves if not being properly protected.
You know, some bold mail thieves will just ignore the law, however harsh it is, and take chances to peek on your mailboxes and make a profit out of it.
So mail theft prevention should be a priority, and here are top eight things you should do to prevent mail theft in the first place.
Invest in a Security Camera
Preventing mail theft and catching the mailbox thieves can be easy with a security camera, especially if you suspect there is mail theft in your community.
The camera can always keep an eye on the mailbox for24/7 no matter where you are. With a surveillance camera, you will find not only the bare open mailbox but also the person who opened it. Moreover, the camera can secure not only your mailbox but also your porch where the packages are often found missing.
Reolink Go is the one that could do the job well. With no wires at all, you are free to place it anywhere that is convenient to capture the mail theft, like mounting it on the tree or under the ceiling. More importantly, it works with NO WiFi and NO power outlets.
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Report to the USPS
Reporting to the USPS (United States Postal Inspection Service) is an effective way to prevent mail theft, especially the repeated ones. In 2015, approximately 1,400 cases of mail theft were investigated nationwide and 2,355 people were arrested.
So, how to report mail theft to USPS? Basically, there are 2 ways.
#1. File a mail theft complaint online.
#2. File a mail theft complaint over the phone at 1-800-275-8777 or 1-800-ASK-USPS.
Collect Your Mails in Time
A rule of thumb to prevent mail theft is that never leave your mails in the mailbox overnight. Remember that if you don’t pick your mails up, someone will do it for you.
So pick up your incoming mail promptly after delivery or at least set an alarm to collect your mail on time to leave no nightly concern for the theft of mail. If you are not home, remember to arrange for a trusted neighbor to pick up the mail for you.
Upgrade Your Mailbox
Sometimes, your traditional mailboxes, that can be fished by hand or pried open with a screwdriver in seconds, are too tempting to the mail thieves.
In that case, you may prevent mail theft by upgrading your mailbox first.
A more solid mailbox could avoid the vandalism from mail theft. There are also more advanced anti-theft mailboxes with a special locking system to secure your letters and identity information. At least, make your mailbox in good condition to gain the basic mailbox theft protection.
Make Your House Look Like Lived in
Like many other property crimes, theft of mail usually happens to the unattended mailbox. So how to stop mail theft even when you are not there?
The first thing is to cancel your subscriptions and changing the mail address for some important delivery. You may also ask your neighbor to have a check on your mailboxes regularly and park in your driveway to declare that someone is watching out.
Order the Residential Patrol Service
The residential patrol serves as the deterrence to community criminal activity, like mail theft.
The theft of mail can be easily caught in the act by patrol since the mailbox is usually placed on the wayside, and the patrol can get a fast response to it, which is a big advantage over the local police.
Or you may join a neighborhood watch program if you live in a small community. By exchanging work and vacation schedules with your neighbors, you can watch each other’s mailboxes (as well as homes).
Do not Send Cash and Personal Information through Mail
It seems to be a no-brainer to prevent mail theft by not sending some mails, but sometimes we will just forget some important things that the mail thieves might take advantage of.
So except for the cash and other valuables, your personal information like credit card numbers, investment account information, phone number, and the date of birth are also what the mail thieves would happy to find. And that is also called mail identity theft.
A good way to prevent mail theft of this kind is to arrange for these important items to be delivered to a Post Office Box regardless of the monthly fee you may bear with.
Do Not Use the Mailbox Flag
A mailbox flag signals that something is inside which needs picking up by either you or your carrier. Postal carriers rarely raise flags themselves after they’ve delivered your mail today but thieves may take notice of the upright flag you’ve put up: A raised flag signals an opportunity for mail theft.
What to Do About Mail Theft
You’ve just unfortunately suffered from mail theft? No panic. There are still chances that you can get your lost things back and catch the mail thieves via the following ways:
#1. Call 9-1-1 and Report It
The mail theft is a crime and you can call 911 directly and report the mail theft to the police. It would be helpful if you have some evidence of it, like the mail theft caught on tape by a security camera.
#2. Call the Postal Inspectors
You may also turn to the USPS for help, and the USPS also deals with the mailbox vandalism issues. In that case, you will be asked to file a formal complaint, which helps the inspectors track down this crime.
Note: the USPS hotline: 1-800-275-8777 or 1-800-ASK-USPS
#3. File an Email Theft Complaint Online
You can never expect an owl to deliver your letter without any accidents like Harry Potter, the only thing you can do is to reduce the risks of exposing your information to the theft or losing any precious items.
Have you ever suffered from mail theft? How did you deal with it? You are very welcome to share other tips or experience with us concerning mail theft in the comment area!