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File photo, mailboxes. // M. Hazlip

Updated 4:32 p.m., March 4th–
By Mike Hazlip— Stolen mail from mailboxes and break-ins at cluster boxes are a concern in Citrus Heights and elsewhere, with complaints being made on social media and recent incidents being reported to The Sentinel. But the postal service says reporting such incidents is the key to helping authorities crack down on the crime.

A resident near Van Maren Lane and Horseman Way reached out to The Sentinel to report two recent incidents of someone breaking into the same cluster mailbox in the area. The resident said a report was filed with police.

Citrus Heights Police Corporal Kyle Miyamura said in a phone call on Saturday that the department has not seen any increasing trend in mailbox theft compared with the prior year, however recent incidents of mail theft have made headlines over the past month.

A recent report by ABC10 shows residents of the Greenhaven and Pocket area of Sacramento held a community meeting after a rise in cluster mailbox theft in their area. The news outlet also reported Elk Grove police arrested an alleged mail thief after a Jan. 4 investigation. Elk Grove police identified the suspect as 30-year-old Misael Cazares using information from surveillance video and license plate readers, ABC10 reports.

Last month, a Rocklin woman was arrested after an officer found 50 pieces of unopened mail in her vehicle during a traffic stop. The mail included W-2 forms and other financial documents, according to a sheriff’s office news release.

In that incident, authorities arrested 43-year-old Jacklyn Patrick for felony identity theft and an additional felony warrant, the release said.

Jeff Fitch, a postal inspector and division public information officer, told The Sentinel in a March 2 phone call that the division does not have any open investigations involving Patrick, but said the postal service is aware of the arrest, and encourages residents who have been the victim of stolen mail to contact the United States Postal Inspection Service.

Mail theft is a federal offense that can carry up to five years in federal prison and up to a $25,000 fine, Fitch said.

“It’s something we take very seriously,” he said. “We’ve got a team there, a station sector that covers that whole area.”

He added there is a standing reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for mail theft.

“So the real key is the reporting, that’s what makes the difference,” Fitch said. “We appreciate the frustration people have when people break into their mailboxes or they steal the mail without damaging the mailbox, either way, or those cluster boxes, each one of those is a crime, but it’s the reporting that makes a difference.”

Fitch said any information provided by the public will help inspectors build their case. Residents can report mail theft to (877) 876-2455.

Authorities say collecting mail each day is one of the best ways to prevent becoming a victim of mail theft and identity fraud. Signing up for the postal service’s Informed Delivery program is also recommended.

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