The theft or possession of someone else’s mail is a federal crime, but that doesn’t stop everyone.

US Postal Service letter carrier prepares to place letters in a mailbox
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

In fact, a recent Facebook post, and confirmation from police, pointed to an attempt at mail theft in Beachwood just last week.

It seems like such an easy grab. Anyone, at any time, can open up your mailbox and start rummaging through the envelopes for hints of cash, checks and personal information.

Reggie Wade, a United States postal inspector with the Philadelphia division, said mail theft “doesn’t happen very frequently.” First-class mail is actually still considered one of the safest ways to transmit personal and financial information.

“When it does happen, what we find is that it’s a gang of individuals…trying to get people’s personal identifiers because it’s part of a larger scheme,” Wade said.

In the alleged Beachwood case, police were notified of a perp in a black Jeep, going through a resident’s mailbox.

A Facebook post from someone related to the victim read:

“She went out to try to get a license plate and observed the same jeep doing it down the street.”

Nothing was stolen, and according to Beachwood Police Chief Robert Tapp, this was an isolated incident for the town.

“We really don’t see this type of thing,” Tapp said. “With the electronic age, everybody’s paying bills and stuff like that online.”

When putting out mail with valuable info or materials, Wade said it’s best to wait as long as possible before the mail carrier arrives. Don’t leave it out overnight.

Also, you can easily make yourself less of a target by skipping a step you may normally take when putting mail out for pick-up: don’t raise the flag on the mailbox.

“You do not have to put the flag up on the side of your mailbox in order to alert the carrier that there’s outgoing mail,” Wade said.

Any suspicions of stolen mail can be reported to postal inspectors by dialing 1-877-876-2455 (option No. 3 for theft).

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