Bellevue police see spike in mail thefts, fear worse could be yet to come

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Officers with the Bellevue Police Department said they’ve seen a sharp rise in mail thefts in April compared to the same time last year.

And investigators said the worse could be yet to come as federal COVID-19 relief checks begin to hit mailboxes.

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Police said there has been a 141 percent increase in mail theft reports compared to April 2019.

“There’s more incentive than ever for thieves to target mailboxes, but you don’t have to be at their mercy. There are many precautions you can take to protect yourself,” Capt. Joe Nault said.

Nault is reminding people to be vigilant about picking up their mail, making sure their mailbox is secure and to watch out for suspicious activity.

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“Our officers have made several arrests recently because neighbors were alert and immediately called us when they saw something off. We all need to look out for each other,” Nault said.

Police gave the following precautions to help people avoid becoming a victim of mail theft:

  • Make sure you have a locking mailbox with the sturdiest lock you can get. 
  • Don’t let mail sit in your mailbox. Mail theft is a crime of opportunity; remove the mail so there’s nothing to take. Find out your mail delivery time and immediately pick up the mail.
  • Sign up for USPS Informed Delivery. This free service allows you to digitally preview your mail and track packages.
  • When ordering merchandise, track packages and be home when they are delivered.
  • Work with neighbors to pick up each other’s packages if you must be away.
  • Send outgoing mail at the post office or deposit close to pick up time.
  • If you can’t pick up your mail, use Hold for Pick Up through USPS.

Police said most of the mail theft reports they have received have come online, which they say is fine if the theft has already occurred. However, police say if the theft is in progress or “very recent” people should call 911.

People can also report mail theft or package theft to the U.S. Postal Inspector here.