SEATTLE — A suspected prolific mail thief was arrested Wednesday in Seattle's Georgetown area, Seattle police said.
Investigators said a 34-year-old woman is believed to have been stealing packages, mail and credit cards in the Beacon Hill area and using the credit cards to make purchases locally. In that area, people are still using the old mailboxes without a lock.
KIRO 7 obtained some home surveillance video and in one instance a woman, later identified by U.S. postal inspectors as Tammara White, was seen calmly walking up to mailboxes in a Beacon Hill alley, taking what's inside and walking away.
Jodi, a Beacon Hill neighbor said, "I knew a package was supposed to be delivered that day, umm, I saw the mailboxes up, I immediately had a sinking feeling."
At the top of the video captured by Jodi's neighbor, you can see a white vehicle the suspected thief walks to. It's one of the clues postal inspectors used to track White down.
"We were able to locate the vehicle, as well as the suspect and take her into custody," U.S. Postal Inspector John Wiegand said.
White was booked into jail after postal inspectors found her near Fourth Avenue and Michigan Street and called the police, who then found White in her car with garbage bags full of mail, police said.
Police are holding her on a warrant for failing to appear in a separate criminal matter.
"We recovered mail from an additional, approximately 100 victims, which we're following up on right now," Wiegand said.
Inspectors also have surveillance photos they said show White shopping at a Target store with a credit card stolen from the mail.
Wiegand said, "She's facing several felony convictions, so it can be a significant amount of jail time for this kind of stuff, especially with identity theft."
Criminal records show White has 16 previous arrests, including one count of felony identity theft for which she served 22 days in jail and community custody, and four counts of misdemeanor theft.
"I'm pretty amazed, I can't believe that they actually caught somebody," Jodi said.
Jodi credits a neighborhood Facebook group for helping everyone realize what was going on and spreading the word about the mail thefts. That's where the video popped up and how neighbors knew they had something they could take to police and postal inspectors to see if they could catch the person.
Jodi is now considering getting her mail delivered to a post office box.
Below is information on how people can know what mail is coming to their home.
The U.S. Postal Service created a tool for customers to digitally preview mail and manage packages that are scheduled for arrival. It is called Informed Delivery and it allows customers "to view greyscale images of the exterior, address side of letter-sized mailpieces and track packages in one convenient location."
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