Some simple steps can help you avoid mail theft

Of late there's been a little bit of coverage in the Mail Tribune on the mail theft ring that was broken up recently. Along those lines, Deputy Ettinger and I just worked a mail theft case up in the Foots Creek Road area and ended up charging two suspects with six felony counts of mail theft. Now, just last week, our Community Service Officer, or CSO, Conley emailed me that for the second time in the past few weeks the area of Carpenter Hill, Dark Hollow and Pioneer roads has been hit by mail thieves. CSO Conley wanted to advise that these are often organized groups doing this, it's their full-time job, and they're often repeat offenders.

So what are the criminals looking for and what are some precautions? CSO Conley wanted to pass along some pointers to protect yourself from mail theft and the headaches of identity theft that often follow. Try to pick up your mail from the mailbox as soon as it's been delivered: Don't let it sit there for extended amounts of time. If possible, don't send outgoing mail from your mailbox, send it from the post office or use the blue USPS curbside drop boxes.

To help us (law enforcement) catch these guys, immediately report any suspicious or unfamiliar vehicle loitering at mailboxes.

That's how Deputy Ettinger and I got our suspects: The resident got a vehicle plate and noticed multiple mailboxes with their flaps open, put two and two together, and called in while following the vehicle. Be as descriptive as possible, i.e. license plate, color, type of vehicle and last direction of travel. If you find any opened or tampered-with mail, try not to handle it any more than possible and give it to the responding officer. It's possible we could get fingerprints off the mail to identify a suspect. Working together, maybe we can put a dent in some of these guys' operations.

Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a regular Q&A column on police issues for the Mail Tribune. Have a question for him? Write to Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501, or email

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