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Mail theft is a pretty simple concept. It occurs when an individual steals mail that does not belong to them. The USPS handles more than 600 million pieces of mail each day of the year. While most of those pieces arrive at their destinations intact, thousands go missing and are never delivered. The postal service has internal investigators to look into mail theft accusations. Thousands are arrested each year for mail theft. It is a federal crime that can come with serious fines and even prison time.
Mail Theft And The Law
Mail theft includes stealing any type of postal item, including postcards and packages. You do not have to use force to be convicted of mail fraud. It can include deception and embezzlement. The thief doesn’t even have to intend to keep the mail after taking it. Destroying or hiding mail also constitutes theft. If you possess, receive or purchase mail that you know has been taken illegally, you may be charged as well.
Oftentimes, mail theft happens by chance. Many postal workers have to leave their mail bins or trucks unattended for short periods of time. This leaves mail easily susceptible to theft. Being convicted of mail theft can come with heavy fines and jail time up to five years or more.
Where Do Mail Thieves Steal From?
Most people steal mail because they want the money orders, checks or credit card applications found inside. Bank statements are also used for fraudulent purposes by mail thieves. Places mail can be taken from include:
•Neighborhood collection box units and deliveries
•Apartment mailbox panels
•Co-op mailing racks
Mail Theft As An Inside Job
Postal workers handle other people’s mail daily. For some, this can create intense temptations. People around the world use the postal service to send and receive valuable items. This gives workers many opportunities to take off with letters, postcards and packages to steal products or information contained.
The law has specific guidelines related to mail theft by employees of the postal service. Any worker or officer who steals, embezzles, removes or abstracts the contents of a bag, letter, mail or package that has been fully entrusted to them to be delivered intact to its intended recipient will be found guilty of mail theft. For those convicted, prison time and fines will be the result.
How To Protect Yourself From Mail Theft?
The USPS has recommendations that people can follow to make it more difficult for mail to be taken by thieves. These tips include:
•Do not send cash through the mail. Send money orders or checks instead.
•If you are going to be away for an extended amount of time, ask your local post office to hold your mail until you return.
•Remove mail daily following the delivery, if possible. If you will be on vacation, ask a neighbor you trust to gather your mail each day for you.
•Start a neighboring watch group.
•If you do not receive a valuable piece of mail you were waiting on, contact the issuer right away.
•Immediately notify the post office when you change your address.
•Contact authorities immediately if you witness mail theft.
What To Do If You Are Charged With Mail Theft
There are serious penalties that come with being charged with mail theft. If you have been convicted, it is important to contact a Philadelphia mail theft lawyer for help. They will be able to go over your case and discuss what options are available to you. They will work hard to ensure you get the least harsh penalties possible.