It was first reported that recent mail thefts were confined to Old Three Rivers Drive. But during Christmas week, sporadic thefts, in addition to the Old Three Rivers area, were reported on opposite ends of town, on Pierce Drive and Skyline Drive too.
Rural mail thefts are common during the holidays because in addition to the usual mail, packages containing gifts are targeted by thieves.
Shirley Martinez, Three Rivers postmaster, said that Tulare County Sheriff’s Department investigators were told that the thefts occurred sometime between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. on a day or two before Christmas.
Martinez said thefts could be avoided if local residents would retrieve their mail soon after it is delivered. The mail is usually in outlying mailboxes between noon and 2 p.m.
“It’s a convenience to pick up your mail right at your house but it’s not advisable to leave that mail inside of the box overnight or for extended periods of time,” Martinez said. “Even if you think there is nothing of value, mail contains personal information that a thief could use to steal your identity.”
Besides a timely removal of the mail, there are secure mailboxes that can be locked to keep out intruders. Martinez said information on locked boxes that meet U.S. Postal Service regulations is on the agency’s website.
Sheriff’s investigators know specifically some of the mailboxes that were targeted. That’s because a portion of the missing mail was found in a dumpster at Lake Kaweah. The investigation is ongoing.
Here's what you can do to protect your mail from thieves:
Use the letter slots inside your Post Office for your mail, or hand it to a letter carrier.
Pick up your mail promptly after delivery. Don’t leave it in your mailbox overnight. If you're expecting checks, credit cards, or other negotiable items, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail.
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.
Don’t send cash in the mail.
Tell your Post Office when you’ll be out of town, so they can hold your mail until you return.
Report all suspected mail theft to a Postal Inspector.
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).
Consult with your local Postmaster for the most up-to-date regulations on mailboxes, including the availability of locked centralized or curbside mailboxes.
If you see a mail thief at work, or if you believe your mail was stolen, report it to the Tulare County Sheriff's Department, then call Postal Inspectors at 877-876-2455 (press 3).