USPIS: People use pandemic, stimulus, tax season as opportunity to target mailboxes

Using flashlight to check mailboxes
Masked man opens two mailboxes
Posted at 5:50 AM, Mar 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-05 12:18:19-05

AURORA, Colo. — A U.S. Postal Inspector says some people are using the pandemic, government stimulus programs and tax season as an opportunity to target mailboxes.

Denver Postal Inspector Eric Manuel said mail theft ebbs and flows but usually increases this time of year.

An Aurora resident, who reported a recent suspicious incident to police, said they told him mail theft was up dramatically.

The homeowner, who asked to remain anonymous, said his security camera recorded at least two people driving up and opening his curbside mailbox, and one belonging to a neighbor, last month.

"When you see somebody pull up to the mailbox at 3 in the morning, they're not there for anything good," he said.

He said one video shows an individual pulling up at 3:30 a.m. on Feb. 8, "using a flashlight, checking my mailbox and then the neighbor's mailbox," he said.

Using flashlight to check mailboxes

The other video shows a different individual pulling up at 7:30 a.m., "speeding through the neighborhood. I think the sun was coming up and he was on his way to work or something, and was checking mailboxes again. I was like, 'What are you doing?'"

Masked man opens two mailboxes

Neither appeared to take anything from the mailboxes.

The homeowner is asking anyone who recognizes the two individuals to call Aurora police.

A neighbor, who also declined to give his name, said the situation is real.

"When I talked with my mailman, he suggested (using) locking mailboxes because... (theft) was up. ... That it was not an occasional thing," he said.

That neighbor said he was expecting a substantial check about a year ago, but never received it and had to have it resent.

"Just recently, I had some tax documents mailed to me and never received them," he said.

Now, he worries about identity theft.

The homeowner with the camera said he turned his video over to Aurora police and was told mail theft was up over 400%.

APD did not confirm that figure to Denver7, but did say there are steps homeowners can take to lessen the likelihood of theft.

A spokeswoman provided a link to the United States Postal Inspection Service's website which addresses mail theft. Among the suggestions:

  • Promptly pick up your mail
  • Inquire about overdue mail
  • Never send cash
  • Use "hold for pickup" if you won't be home to receive a package

It's not just mail being stolen.

The first homeowner told Denver7 someone broke into a neighbor's car.

"They stole the garage door opener. They used the garage door opener, opened up the garage, and stole the car that was in the garage," he said.

He suggested that drivers keep garage door openers with them, and not leave them in their car.

He also shared video of a golf club wielding individual who walked up a driveway, got spooked, turned around and ran.

If you recognize the individuals in the photos, contact Aurora police.