Kent resident Debbe Carson wants residents to know that people do steal mail out of mailboxes. She’s had mail taken twice in June, for a grand total of five times over the last three years.
“You just can’t put something in the mailbox anymore – it’s not safe,” Carson said Tuesday at her home on the East Hill near Kent-Kangley Road.
Debbe and husband Bruce Carson finally bought a locking mailbox. They hope that helps solve the problem after losing cash, checks and a debit card to mail thieves.
But a locking mailbox has its own complications.
“There’s no good answer,” Debbe Carson said. “Locking boxes are great, but you can’t put packages in them. We run to the post office to pick up packages.”
So far this year, Kent Police have received 28 reports of mail theft, said Lisa Price, public information officer for the Kent Police.
Officers made one arrest in May for mail theft when a resident called in to say he saw someone stealing mail. Responding police found the man with a backpack full of more than 200 pieces of mail.
Sara Wood, a public-education specialist for the Kent Police, said there are several things you can do to slow down a mail thief.
These steps include:
• Pick up delivered mail as soon as possible from your personal mailbox. Never let it overflow. This is a giveaway that you might be out of town and thieves will be more likely to choose your box.
• If you are away, give a neighbor your mailbox key, and have them pick up and safely store each day’s deliveries.
• Put outgoing mail into an official U.S. Postal Service collection box. They are hard to break into, are in a more public setting, and postal employees monitor them at pickup times.
• Avoid putting outgoing mail into your own personal mailbox.
• Watch for thefts in progress and report them immediately to 911.
The Auburn Police arrested a woman for investigation of mail theft in connection with mail taken from the Carson mailbox in June.
“We got a call from a detective in Auburn that a woman had tried to ditch a debit card and it was my husband’s card,” Debbe Carson said.
No charges had been made on the account because the card had yet to be activated.
When the Carsons moved into their Kent neighborhood about four years ago, neighbors were canvasing the area to buy a block of locking mailboxes. The Carsons didn’t buy one because the cost was about $150.
“It was too much to spend, but it probably would’ve been a really good investment,” Debbe Carson said.
About a year later, the thieves came calling. Carson had mail, including a check from her mother, taken from her box. Police ended up arresting a neighbor in connection with that case. That neighbor no longer lives in the area.
The repeated thefts have left the family leery about their mail activities.
“We’ve stopped sending anything out of the mailbox,” Debbe Carson said.
Debbe Carson’s parents live out of state, so they’ve sent checks or cash to their daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. But not all of that has made it to the family. Thieves struck in December in 2008, putting a headache in their holiday season.
“They (mail thieves) know people send checks at Christmas,” Debbe Carson said.
The Kent residents says she wants residents to know mail thieves strike so more people keep an eye out for the problem.
“Maybe with some vigilance we can help catch some of these mail thieves,” she said.