TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - U.S. postal inspectors in Tucson are investigating a rash of mail thefts in a midtown neighborhood near Oracle and Miracle Mile.
"They're pretty brazen to be doing that," neighbor Julie VanderWeken said.
As VanderWeken was coming home from the store, she caught a man stealing mail in broad daylight near Laguna and 15th.
"I called 911 and said I'm witnessing someone breaking and entering into a mailbox," VanderWeken said.
Then a short time later she was walking her dog and noticed dozens of envelopes scattered in the alley behind her home.
"It was pretty bad probably over 20, 30 different names of people. It looked like they wanted credit cards, any bank statements, looking for money," VanderWeken said.
Other neighbors told Tucson News Now they started to get worried when certain bills went missing from their box.
"We called the doctor and they said they already sent it but we didn't get it," Mail theft victim Nicolle Leon said.
Tucson News Now brought these concerns to Tucson's U.S. Postal Inspector Dan Grossenbach, who said they are keeping close tabs on the Miracle Mile neighborhood to zero in on the suspect.
"There are leads that we're following; there's even suspects we are looking at," Grossenbach said.
But until someone is arrested, folks like VanderWeken are not taking any chances.
"For now I actually got a P.O. box just ... to be safe," VanderWeken said.
So how can you better protect your mail? The U.S. Postal Service recommends that customers take these steps:
- Never send cash in the mail. Use checks or money orders. Ask your bank for “secure” checks that are more difficult to alter.
- Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery. Or ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail if you’re expecting high-value items. You can significantly reduce the chance of being victimized by simply removing your mail from your mailbox EVERY day.
- Have your post office hold your mail while you’re absent from your home for a period of time. You can do this online at www.usps.com.
- If you don’t receive valuable mail you’re expecting, contact the issuing agency immediately.
- If you change your address, immediately notify your Post Office and anyone with whom you do business via the mail.
- If you are expecting a package delivery, track the shipment at www.usps.com so you can retrieve it quickly once it has been delivered.
- Hand outgoing mail to your letter carrier, or mail it at the Post Office, an official blue USPS collection box on the street, or a secure receptacle at your place of business.
- Consider starting a neighborhood watch program.
If anyone sees something suspicious near a mailbox or sees someone stealing mail, they should call the police immediately and then report it to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 1-877-876-2455.