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Mail thieves raid Newcastle boxes

Residents on the lookout for suspicious characters
By: Eyragon Eidam of the Auburn Journal
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A rash of mail thefts over the weekend in Newcastle has authorities and law enforcement on the lookout for suspicious activity.

Mail crimes, while not a new racket, have been on the rise throughout much of the Central Valley and surrounding areas according to officials with the U.S. Postal Service.

Grant Miller was one of at least five residents in the Gold Hill Road and Ridge Road area of Newcastle who had Saturday’s mail stolen.

Miller, who was expecting to receive his Social Security card, said the opened mail was returned to him after being discarded in a neighbor’s driveway.

“That [Social Security card] is my biggest concern,” Miller said. “I don’t know what’s missing.”

John Downs, a Newcastle resident, also had his mail taken from his mailbox. Downs said thieves made off with a prescription, but said he wasn’t sure what else they got.

Sheriff’s deputies were notified of the occurrence.

While thieves often target mailboxes as sources of valuable personal information, the crime carries severe consequences for those unlucky enough to be convicted.

Jeff Fitch, inspector and spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said the federal offense comes with up to five years in federal prison and as much as $250,000 in fines.

Fitch said increases in mail theft throughout Sacramento and the Central Valley have caused the agency to bring in inspectors from other parts of the country.

According to Fitch, filing formal reports with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service is essential in catching and convicting anyone who steals mail. 

“Reporting is what really helps in these investigations,” Fitch said.

At the county level, Dena Erwin, public information officer for the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, said mail theft is an ongoing issue throughout the county.

Erwin said rural areas are often targeted because of the distance between homes and roads.

“Mail theft is happening all the time, all over the county,” Erwin said. “Mail theft is very common.”

Law enforcement officials urge victims and witnesses to report thefts and suspicious activity to local and federal agencies. Fitch said reports can be filed through the U.S. Postal Inspection Service website or by calling (877) 876-2455.