ROSEVILLE, Calif. (KTXL) — Neighbors in Roseville are growing more concerned over a series of mail thefts happening by what appears to be the same person, based on security camera footage.
Just before 4:30 a.m. Saturday, Mark Trowbridge witnessed something he and his neighbors found disturbing right outside his front door on Farridge Drive.
“I could hear some noise outside, looked out the window and there was a man that was opening up the mailbox and pulling the mail out,” Trowbridge said, “He did it within a minute, he had the mailbox shut up and he was gone.”
On Thursday, the white sedan appeared three miles down the road off of Barossa Way, caught on homeowner Nigel Greaves’ neighbor’s security camera, again at 4:30 a.m.
“The door opened, and the individual got out and started doing this stuff right here and then you can clearly see the door open, he threw it in the car and then he opened the second door, same thing,” Greaves said.
Both neighbors witnessed what appears to be a cluster mailbox burglary, done in less than 10 minutes, seemingly by someone who’s able to gain access to each person’s box.
Both Trowbridge and Greaves say they knew something wasn’t right when they noticed these weren’t typical mail carrier hours or a mail truck, they were driving in.
According to Trowbridge, this is not the neighborhood’s first run in with mail theft.
“We found out just in the last few weeks that our mailbox was probably vandalized in January because we got contacted by the Yuba City Police Department telling us that they had our mail,” Trowbridge said.
In March, the Yuba County Sheriff’s Office arrested three men who had taken possessions from several mailboxes in the Plumas Lake area.
Greaves says he’s thankful the thieves didn’t get a hold of his mail that day.
“We had a statement from my wife’s retirement plan was in there and our state tax refund check was in there,” Greaves said.
“Oh, it’s irritating, but it just seems that’s the norm nowadays,” Trowbridge said.
While Roseville police works with the U.S. Postal Service for their investigation, both neighbors recommend to those living in the Blue Oaks-Roseville area to check home security footage and recognize the signs of cluster mailbox thieves.
“He does this quite often apparently because, like I said, it took a minute for him to pull up open the box up, take the mail out, lock the box, get in his car and drive away,” Trowbridge said.
“Every day, ours and everybody else, has got to empty their mail every single day,” Greaves said.
Greaves says their neighborhood has recently had break-ins to people’s homes, people have been on camera trying to open car doors, and he’s even caught a few porch pirates in the act. He tells all his neighbors to bring their cars in, talk to one another, and consistently check their home security footage like he does every day.
There is no official word yet from police or the post office on whether or not they’ll replace the locks on the neighborhood’s mailboxes but the Roseville Police Department released the following statement to FOX40:
The Roseville Police Department has seen a rise in theft from cluster mail boxes.
Not only is it tax season, but this year, many people are receiving federal stimulus cash cards in the mail.
Why do people steal mail?
Because it’s lucrative. Thieves find valuable things in mailboxes that they can use or sell right away, like packages, cash, checks and gift cards. Mail thieves also collect personal information for identity theft. Financial statements and tax paperwork contain treasure troves of personal information–full names and dates of birth, bank account numbers, social security numbers and more. Identity thieves use that stolen information to make their own credit cards, apply for credit or file fraudulent tax returns. Identity theft is a real pain for financial institutions and victims—it takes victims a lot of time and work to clean up a compromised credit history.
How can we protect ourselves from mail thieves? The best strategy is prevention—keep valuables and sensitive financial information out of the mailbox. Here are a few ideas:
1. Go paperless. Opt to receive financial statements and pay bills electronically—it saves paper and postage, and reduces your risk of identity theft. E-file your taxes and have tax returns deposited directly into your bank.
2.Visit the US Postal Service’s website at USPS.com and sign up for their Informed Delivery service. They’ll email you a preview of your incoming mail every day, so you know what to expect. Track packages. If something important isn’t delivered, you can follow up immediately with the post office and the sender.
3. Don’t send cash or gift cards in the mail. Most major retailers offer e-gift card options, so you can email your gift card to a friend instead of mailing it. Use free money transfer services like Apple Pay, Venmo or Google Pay instead of mailing checks or cash to family and friends. (If you don’t know how, ask a teenager!)
4. Don’t let mail sit in the box for long periods of time. If possible, put your outgoing mail in the box just before your carrier arrives, and pick up your incoming mail as soon as you can after delivery. Never let mail sit in the box overnight. If you’re mailing something valuable or with sensitive information, like a tax return, it’s safest to take it to the post office for mailing.
5. Taking a trip? Visit USPS.com and have your mail held at the post office while you’re gone. You can either pick it up at the post office or have it all delivered upon your return. Or ask your neighbor/house sitter to collect your mail every day!
Report suspicious activity.
As always, keep an eye out for your neighborhood and call police immediately to report any suspicious activity, like someone using a pry tool on the back of a mailbox. Be ready to describe the person and their vehicle to the dispatcher—take pictures, if you can do so safely.
Mail theft is a huge nuisance, but these simple steps can prevent serious lossesRob Baquera, Public Information Officer, Roseville Police Department
Officer Rob Baquera with Roseville police says at this time, they cannot say whether these cluster mailbox thefts in Yuba City and Roseville are connected.