Mail Theft Warning and Solutions
Recently, the Fremont Police Department has identified an increase in reports of mail theft throughout the city. Most commonly, the incidents are occurring during the night, but there have been instances where the thefts occur in broad daylight. These thefts are from residential mailboxes as well as banks of mailboxes in apartment complexes.
Mail theft is a crime of opportunity. Thieves are looking for anything of value – such as Economic Impact (stimulus) payments or other checks, EDD/unemployment documents, bank and credit card information. Your personal information is also valuable and can be used to commit identity theft and fraud crimes.
If you see a crime in-progress, you can call 9-1-1. If you see suspicious activity, we strongly encourage you to immediately call our non-emergency number 510-790-6800 X 3. If you think someone is trying to steal mail, do not attempt to stop them yourself. Call the Fremont Police, describe the situation and provide descriptions of involved persons and related vehicle(s).
Tips to Protect Your Mail
- Promptly pick up mail - Pick up mail from your mailbox as soon as possible after delivery, especially if you are expecting to receive a check or merchandise. Do not leave your mail unattended overnight. Make checking your mailbox part of your daily routine.
- Get a locking mailbox - Replace your mailbox with one that has a locking device. It won’t always stop mail theft but it makes it harder for the thieves who might just go to the next (unlocked) mailbox.
- Do not send cash or sensitive information through the mail. Do not leave outgoing mail with checks or money orders in your personal mailbox for pick up by the mail carrier. Hand outgoing mail to the carrier or take your mail to a postal collection box or to the Post Office.
- Inquire about any overdue mail - If you do not receive a check, credit card or other valuable mail you’re expecting, contact the sender as soon as possible to inquire about it.
- Alert the Post Office if you are going out of town. The U.S. Postal Service can hold your mail at no charge if you’ll be traveling.
- Track your shipments so that you know what day they should arrive. If you can’t pick up your mail or have a package scheduled for delivery, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick it up for you. Request a signature delivery option if available, or request the shipment be held at the shipping facility or Post Office.
- If you do not receive your shipment on time, check with the company of origin and confirm the delivery. Often when drivers deliver packages, they leave them sitting on the front porch. Thieves will drive around neighborhoods looking for boxes on porches to steal.
- If your item was delivered and you did not receive it, then report the theft or loss to the original company, the shipping company, and the Fremont Police Department.
Talk to Your Neighbors
Talk to your neighbors. They may not realize their mail has been stolen too. This also puts everyone on watch. Share information about mail or package theft on your neighborhood social media or neighborhood email list. Install security cameras and examine footage that may show suspects stealing mail. Share this footage with Fremont Police.
Other Things to Consider
- Talk to your postal carrier and know when the mail is delivered. Alert your carrier if you’ve noticed any strange behavior around the local mailboxes. Ask if he/she knows of any problems in your area and inquire about a more secure set-up if he/she voices concern.
- Scrutinize your mail. Don’t just throw away letters from banks and financial providers, utility companies or businesses, even those you don’t recognize. If you receive a bill or statement you don’t recognize, call the company immediately to inquire.
- Shred documents that contain identifying information. Documents with account numbers, your social security number, banking details, pay stubs and identifying information like your name and date of birth. If you’re not sure if a piece of mail is sensitive, shred it. An experienced thief can use just your name and your birthdate to damage your credit.
- Beware of phony change of address. Thieves may file a false change of address form to get their hands on your mail. The Post Office will send a validation letter to your old and new address when a change is filed. If you did not file the change, don’t just ignore the letter. Follow the instructions and call to alert Postal Inspectors of the phony request and report the incident to the Fremont Police. You may be the victim of identity theft.
- Go green. Switch to paperless billing and statements to reduce the amount of sensitive mail you receive.
- Set a fraud alert. Contact one of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian or TransUnion — and receive a notice if any inquires on your credit are taken out in the next three months.
- Monitor your credit report - Scour your credit report for signs of identity theft. Obtain a free report each year at AnnualCreditReport.com. Check for any suspicious activity, and dispute fraudulent items. If you think you are the victim of identity theft, file a report with the police.
How to report mail or package theft:
- To report an in-progress crime, call 9-1-1.
- To report a package theft when you have suspect information (including a photo or video surveillance), please call 790-6800 X 3.
- To report a theft where unfortunately there is no suspect information or evidence, please utilize our on-line system to file your police report.
- You can also report mail theft to the US Postal Inspection Service at www.uspis.gov/report.