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Memphians share first-hand accounts of mail thieves stealing from USPS mailboxes

Last year, more than 1,500 arrests were made for mail theft. USPS said they only know about the thefts if they're reported.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — We have heard of porch pirates but mail theft has taken another turn. No only are mail thieves stealing from homes, they are also stealing right from postal locations.

While people might think mail is safe in a mailbox, Memphis resident Steven Sanders said it is not. 

“I will never drop off my mail at a USPS lock box outside. I will never do it. I will go inside the store and I will take it inside,” said Sanders.

That's because Sanders saw, first-hand, criminals in action. 

“I was sitting outside the Kroger at Winchester [Road] and Hack's Cross [Road]. I saw a grey Infiniti circling around the parking lot a few times,” said Sanders. 

“Eventually, the Infiniti just stopped. Somebody rolled down the window. They took what looked to be a red rope or something with something attached at the end, threw it inside the box, and just started yanking out mail. They took out, what I could tell, maybe two or three handfuls in a matter of seconds.”

Sanders is not the only one. Others shared their stories of similar thefts on Nextdoor. 

Some said they had checks stolen, tampered with, and in some cases cashed. 

“I was just sitting there almost in shock and amazement on how quickly and how uniformed their process. I could tell this was not their first rodeo,” said Sanders.

We reached out to the USPS. They said if you witness an incident like this, immediately report it to police. Then, call the postal service. Last year, USPS made over 1,500 arrests for mail theft; however, the only way they can act, is if they know.

If you are using an official mailbox, postal inspectors said check the pick-up time. If it is after hours, go inside. You can also get a PO Box, a lockable mailbox or give your mail directly to a carrier. Don’t let incoming and outgoing mail sit in your mailbox for long periods of time.

“It’s 2022. Criminals are getting just as smart as our scientists, as our engineers, as our mathematicians,” said Sanders. “I only wish these criminals will take that ingenuity, take all that intelligence, and work that it takes to be a criminal and figure out how to do all of that and put it towards something good. Go figure out how you can take that same ability, that same effort, that same energy and do something positive with it.” 

Editor's note: The interview subject in this story is a family member of an ABC24 employee.

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