USPS warns of ‘mail theft epidemic’; three cases in Lincoln in last week

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Reports coming in from across the country are warning of a “mail theft epidemic” as the holiday shopping season begins.

An audit by the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General found that there were nearly 300,000 reports of mail theft between March 2020 and February 2021.

That’s a 161% increase compared with the year before.

Brenda Burcham with Mail Plus, a Lincoln mailing center, says customers see this happen especially during the holidays. 

“It happens all the time, it happens every day of the year,” she said. “But obviously now, I would say now through the first of the year, where there are more packages being shipped, there are more opportunities for theft.” 

Lincoln Police Department data show there have been three mailbox thefts in the last seven days.

Just a couple months into 2022, Lincoln Police were already seeing a major increase in mailbox thefts.

There were 32 cases between January and February alone.  The average for that time of year is eight. 

Experts say the letters inside your mailbox can give thieves all of the information they need to not only steal your identity, but also ruin you financially.

Check washing has become more common in recent years.

That’s when a thief takes a check and removes what’s written down with chemicals.  They then deposit it into a different account, for often a much higher amount.

Thousands of washed checks are then sold online, every week.

The growing crime has experts urging everyone to check your mailbox regularly and even avoid using the blue collection boxes around town.

A nonprofit group shared a warning just this week that criminals are also targeting mail carriers to steal the special keys that unlock those boxes.

Experts say you should use collection services inside postal offices to be safe.  You can also sign up for informed delivery to track what’s coming to your mailbox.

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