WICHITA, Kansas – Whether mailing a letter to a friend or trying to pay a bill, those blue United States Postal Services mailboxes that you see are your way. We presume those mailboxes are safe but what if someone gets in there that isn’t supposed to?
“I’m an attorney so I wouldn’t want anyone to get ahold of any of those letters except the people they’re addressed to,” said Wayne Sanchez of Wichita.
KSN has learned that the U.S. Postal Inspection Service has opened an investigation into mail thefts in Wichita. However, because the investigation is ongoing they would not provide further information about the specific case including, how many mailboxes may have been damaged or if people should be concerned about mail, including potentially personal and financial information that may have been inside.
Multiple sources have told KSN that at least one mailbox had been removed and replaced by the Dillons on the corner of 13th and West Street. Inspectors would not comment on that situation either.
“I would want to know because I wouldn’t want to use those boxes,” said Sanchez. “I’d start going into the actual post office building and putting my mail in those.”
Although the investigation regarding the destruction and theft of public mailboxes is ongoing and the post office would not comment at all about details of the incident, they did enlighten us on mail theft in general and how one can protect themselves.
According to a December 2013 report on identity theft from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Department of Justice, 16.6 million people, or 7% of all Americans age 16 or older, were victims of one or more incidents of identity theft in the prior year. People were 2.5 times more likely to be victimized by a friend or family member, and 22 times more likely to be victimized during a legitimate purchase or transaction than by mail theft.
In the unlikely case that you may be susceptible to mail theft and possibly identity theft, the post office offers this advice to protect yourself and your mail.
- Never send cash or coins in the mail. Use checks or money orders.
- Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery. Or ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail if you’re expecting high-value items.
- Have your Post Office hold your mail while you’re absent from your home for a period of time. You can do this online at usps.com.
- If you don’t receive valuable mail you’re expecting, contact the issuing agency immediately.
- If you change your address, immediately notify your Post Office and anyone with whom you do business via the mail.
- Consider starting a neighborhood watch program.
The post office advises to remove your mail promptly from a mail receptacle so that it doesn’t accumulate and have a higher chance of being stolen. If you see someone suspicious near a mailbox or witness mail theft, call police immediately and then report it to the United States Postal Service at 877-876-2455.
You can also report a claim online if you believe your mail was stolen at www.postalinspectors.uspis.gov.