Mailboxes Pried Open, Contents Stolen


Mailboxes along the Control Road from Beaver Valley to Tonto Village were burglarized Dec. 4.

Postmaster Lori Shewey said the mailboxes were hit in a single night. The suspects took the inbound and outbound mail. Investigators found mail strewn along the road, some of it opened.

According to Mead Ranch resident Rick Washburn, the thieves pried the boxes open with a crowbar. They stole his mother's mail. Lita Washburn said they were looking for financial and credit information.

The Washburns contacted Equifax, the credit card companies and other financial institutions to report possible identity theft. Shewey said none of the victims have reported irregular financial activity.

Tampering with mail is a federal offense.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service reports that nearly 10 million Americans were victims of identity theft last year.

Tampering with mail is a federal crime that carries fines and prison time. If you have any information about the theft, contact the inspector's office at (602) 223-3660, the Gila County Sheriff's Office, (928) 474-2208 or the Payson Post Office (928) 474-2972.

What you can do to protect your mail:

  • Never send cash or coins in the mail. Use checks or money orders.
  • Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery, especially if you're expecting checks, credit cards, or other negotiable items. If you won't be home when the items are expected, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail.
  • Have your local post office hold your mail while you're on vacation or absent from your home for a long period of time.
  • If you don't receive a check or other 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.
  • Always deposit your mail in a mail slot at your local post office, or hand it to your letter carrier.
  • Consider starting a neighborhood watch program. By exchanging work and vacation schedules with trusted friends and neighbors, you can watch each other's mailboxes (as well as homes).

If you observe a mail thief at work, call the local police immediately, and then your nearest Postal Inspector.

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