Blairstown Police are warning residents of a “large increase” in the theft of mail from residential mailboxes.
“Mail thefts have been increasing across the state, and Blairstown has seen several cases recently,” said Police Chief Scott Johnson.
Unlike packages from Amazon and other retail businesses, letters delivered by the U.S. Postal Service are to include information that can lead to identity theft.
“Mail theft has led to identity theft and other forgery crimes,” Johnsen said. “People should stay vigilant.”
Johnsen recommends residents install security cameras that can view the mailbox, if that is practical.
Many residents, particularly in rural areas, have mailboxes that are located on a roadway, often a significant distance from the house, where the mailboxes can’t be viewed. Johnsen said the U.S. Postal Service offers guidance to reduce the threat of mail theft. Among their recommendations:
Collect your mail from your mailbox every day as soon as possible after it is delivered.
Do not allow mail to accumulate, even in a locked mailbox.
Deposit outgoing mail into blue collection boxes before the final pick up of the same day of deposit. Check the pick-up schedule posted on the box to ensure your mail will not sit in the box overnight or over the weekend.
If you have concerns about security in your neighborhood, place mail in a secure receptacle at your place of business or inside at a Post Office.
When expecting packages to be delivered, monitor tracking at www.usps.com so you know when to expect your shipment. A new U.S. Postal Service feature provides email and text alerts to notify customers of package delivery- sign up at www.myusps.com. You can go to this same website to have the Post Office hold your mail if you are absent from your home for a period of time.
If you see any suspicious substance, such as glue or other sticky product on the mailbox, please your local Post Office to report it and notify Postal Inspectors. Immediately report any suspicious activity to local police.
You can report mail theft, identity theft, fraud or other crimes involving the U.S. Mail online 24/7 by visiting the Inspection Service website at https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov (Select “contact us” and then “file a complaint.”
If you see a mail thief at work, call local police immediately then call Postal Inspectors at 877-876-2455.
It should be noted that theft of U.S. Mail is a federal crime and that people charged with theft can be prosecuted in federal court. A first conviction can result in a sentence of five years in federal prison.
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.
Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.
Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.
Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.