Federal, Local Officials Hold Town Hall Meeting on Mail Theft in South Sacramento

SACRAMENTO -- It's a crime that can happen anywhere and to any neighborhood.

Mailbox vandalism was the topic Thursday evening at a town hall meeting in South Sacramento.

Community members were joined by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Trade Commission, local lawmakers and police.

"Mail theft is a federal crime, and we want people to report this," said Postal Inspector William Zemblidge."

Thieves are breaking into mailboxes and taking what's inside, which can lead to a whole host of other crimes including robbery and identity theft.

"I'm so worried about identity theft because of the fragile security of a mailbox that I get my documents online, I do my payments online," said Dean Dal Ben, a Sacramento resident who has been a victim of mail theft three times. "If I have to send a payment in, I go to the post office to mail my check."

Recently communities in Vacaville and Lodi where hit by vandals who busted open several cluster mailboxes. In Sacramento, however, when a mailbox is broken into, it is now being replaced with a high-security mailbox, and it still probably won't completely stop thieves from breaking into it.

"But they'll probably go somewhere else before they try to break into these high-security boxes," said Karen Garner with the U.S. Postal Service.

Judging by the turnout at Thursday's town hall meeting, it's a problem the community is willing to do all they can to slow down.

"I no longer put anything in the outgoing box that is of significant importance, and we're very diligent about picking the mailbox up every day," said Charlene Crabb.

Another precaution is to put a vacation hold on your mail if you'll be away for an extended period of time. But the most important thing you can do is to report any crimes that are occurring involving mailboxes so that they can be investigated.

Mail theft is a federal crime punishable up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine. The easiest way to file a complaint is to call the U.S. Postal Inspector hotline at (877) 876-2455.