WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Police are warning thieves are targeting mailboxes at a time of year when sensitive information is on the move.
Officers in Winston-Salem say a neighborhood off Polo Road was recently targeted. Word of the thefts quickly traveled between neighbors.
“Just a lot of people talking about somebody’s opening their mailbox and pulling things out,” said Sandy Steele, whose mailbox was targeted a couple of years ago.
Police say the motive is likely to steal personal information, then use it to commit a fraud such as opening a credit card in the victim’s name.
“And taking out either bills, or something that they think has a check in it,” said Pamela Ripsom, also of the Polo Road area.
Investigators add that the locations do appear to be random, saying the thieves could target one city one day, then move on to another the next.
Greensboro police confirm they too have received reports of mail theft.
“It’s happening,” Steele said. “I think it kind of falls into the same category with breaking into cars.”
Officers say mail theft is difficult to prevent because most people aren’t home during the day when their mail is delivered. However, some of the recent crime has been reported as happening overnight.
They add that reporting any suspicious people or vehicles in a timely manner is crucial.
“Within our circle, where I live, we do, we pass that on all the time,” Steele said. “If we see someone suspicious in our circle we let our neighbors know. So, just being aware.”
Many times, they don’t receive word that a theft has happened until days later.
Steele says after her mailbox was targeted, she has been more cautious with what she puts in it.
“If it was something important I would just drop it off at the post office,” she said.
Officers say if you are targeted you should let the postmaster know immediately.
The USPS says if you’re expecting checks, credit cards or other negotiable items, have a friend or neighbor pick up your mail if you cannot. If you don’t receive something of value you’re expecting, contact any issuing agencies immediately. You can also tell your post office when you’re going out of town so they can hold your mail for you. Finally, never send cash in the mail.