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Thefts hit rural mail addresses

Thieves pilfered the contents of at least 70 mailboxes in the Sams Valley area overnight Wednesday.

Residents along Rogue River Drive, which runs between Highway 234 and Highway 62 near Sams Valley, started their Thursday by finding their mailboxes opened and the mail missing, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department said.

"That entire stretch has been hit," said Sgt. Eric Henderson with the sheriff's department, adding that residences along Sawyer Road and Highway 234 also were hit.

The sheriff's department and U.S. Postal Service are working together on the investigation. A large pile of discarded mail, likely dumped by the thieves, was found and turned over to the U.S. Postal Service, the sheriff's department said.

Police and postal officials will return the recovered mail, and are looking to see whether others were affected.

"I’m sure we’re going to get victims calling in the next several days," Henderson said.

Police are seeking property owners in the area who have surveillance systems that might have photographed the mail thieves. Police have already located some cameras but are looking for others.

"That's kind of their priority right now," Henderson said. "It's just a matter of reviewing some stuff. We're really hopeful that once we review that, we'll find the suspects."

Mail thefts tend to come sporadically, Sgt. Julie Denney said, though this particular theft stands out.

"This one is significant because there were so many along that stretch," Denney said.

There are several tips area residents can use to better guard themselves from being victims of such a crime. The biggest one, Denney said, is to make sure the mail is checked daily so it's not left out overnight, the most typical stretch of time for mail thefts to occur.

Telling the post office to hold your mail while you are on vacation can also help. Additionally, the post office offers a service called informed delivery, where postal customers can get notifications of what to expect.

"Every day you'll receive an email of what to expect in your mailbox that day," Denney said. "That helps a lot."

Residents also can purchase locked mailboxes, which allow delivery, but cannot be opened without a key. Less convenient, but effective, is the option of renting a box from the post office or private mail company.

Interested parties should visit https://informeddelivery.usps.com/box/pages/intro/start.action for more information, where they can also see if their zip code is eligible.

Anyone with information about the Thursday mail theft case is asked to call 541-776-7206. The case number is 18-4187.

— Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

Thieves stole mail from at least 70 mailboxes along Rogue River Drive Wednesday night. [Jackson County Sheriff's Department]