Summit County Sheriff’s Office warns of mail thefts during holiday season
December 5, 2018
When Jennifer Beyer was browsing a social media page dedicated to her Silver Creek neighborhood late last month, she came across a post explaining how the neighborhood mailbox building had been vandalized.
Beyer said she normally checks her mail every couple of weeks, and when she looked in her mailbox after discovering the post, it was empty. As the days went on, no further information was released about the situation.
Beyer was concerned about the situation, though it wasn't clear what, if anything, was stolen.
The Summit County Sheriff's Office received one report about the situation on Nov. 26. Lt. Andrew Wright, with the Sheriff's Office, said no similar reports have been filed within the last two weeks. "When the deputy responded, he walked through the mailbox area and did not observe any damage to the mailboxes," he said. "The only concern was that one of the mailboxes was opened from the back and there was mail on the floor. Two garbage cans were gone as well. But, the complainant did not know if any mail was missing."
Wright said it is difficult for the Sheriff's Office to investigate a mail theft if no one files a report that they are missing mail. He acknowledged that people may not know that they are missing anything unless they were expecting a bill or a package. On some occasions, people will only file their reports with the United States Postal Service, which has its own investigators.
"That's part of the problem. If people don't report stolen mail to us, then it is difficult for us to investigate anything," he said. "The post office's investigators will often reach out to us when that comes directly to them and we will team up with them. But, there can be a delay in reporting."
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Mail thefts tend to be more prevalent during the holiday seasons when people are shopping online or sending gift cards, money and presents. Wright said the Sheriff's Office tries to remind people to be creative when they order items online and have them shipped to their office or ask neighbors to keep an eye out for the packages if they know they won't be home.
"I wouldn't say we have a huge problem, by any means, but we do see an increase in reports of mail thefts," he said. "People will gather up mail that they believe will be beneficial to them or contains personal identifying information."
Catching the perpetrators and recovering stolen packages or mail can be difficult, unless an area has video surveillance or the thieves are caught in the act. Two people were arrested in October of 2017 with more than 100 pieces of mail belonging to more than 30 Summit County residents, but only after authorities were notified of a suspicious vehicle parked in a Summit Park woman's driveway. The pair were arrested for a slew of felony charges.
"We have found mail after it has been reported stolen in garbage cans, but we don't have a suspect in those cases and it can be very difficult for us to track down the thief," Wright said. "But, with last year's incident we were able to return a bunch of stolen mail. But, we happened to be in the right place at the right time and someone witnessed the crime as it took place."
Anyone who suspects they are missing mail or a package is advised to contact the Sheriff's Office non-emergency line at 435-615-3600.