A Growing Problem In Montclair
Mail/identity theft is a serious and growing problem throughout the Bay Area, and is expected to get worse. Many residents don’t report mail theft to the USPS for such reasons as:
- they don’t know how
- they got no feedback/outcome from earlier reports
- they are not sure what’s missing if anything
- they are not sure what all is involved; they are not sure it’s worth the trouble.
Stolen mail is often a thief’s first step into an even worse crime, identity theft, which is the fastest growing crime in the US today and one that can take its victims hundreds of hours researching damages, resolving billing disputes and restoring credit ratings.
The Montclair Neighborhood Council believes neighborhood awareness and personal precautions can significantly reduce mail theft in the Montclair area.
Click on any of the topics to the right to learn more about this important subject. They can help your make an informed decision about protecting yourself from mail theft.
How would I know if I’d had mail stolen?
- You might see all the mailbox doors wide open. For some thieves, this is their “calling card.” Report this immediately as a suspected theft.
- You may discover mail you were expecting never arrived, and after confirming with the sender it was mailed, you suspect theft. While this may turn out to be misdirected rather than stolen mail, report this as a suspected theft.
- You go to pick up your mail well past the delivery schedule, and your box is empty. You check again early in the morning…still empty. It’s not a holiday. You talk to your neighbors, and their boxes too were empty. Report this immediately as a suspected theft.
Is every complaint to the USPS followed up by the Postal Inspectors?
No. There are not enough Postal Inspectors to follow each and every complaint. However, the USPS enters every complaint into a database, and active investigations could be triggered by any part of the information you provide.
The inspectors are looking for information patterns used to catch the major criminals, or to find gangs of mail and identity thieves. They have been quite successful in the past in stopping the majority of mail theft and identity theft that has been reported in our area.
After reporting a theft to the USPS, is there any way to get feedback about the immediate pursuit or the eventual outcome?
Not at this time, but you can watch newspapers and communications from our District 4 office, OPD and the MSIC for general feedback.
How does the Oakland Police Department (OPD) respond to 911 reports of mail theft?
They will respond to a 911 call of a mail theft in progress. Provide as much information as you can: name of the suspect, license plate of any vehicle involved, address of crime , etc, If you have personally watched the suspect steal mail, they will take a report and possibly pursue the case. If you have less than the above, they will forward the case to the USPS. This includes ongoing fraud or ongoing identity theft.
Is every complaint to the OPD followed up?
No, but every complaint is entered into the database, and active pursuit of a case could be triggered by the dollar amount at stake, indication of a trend, connection with another case, or evidence that a ring is at work.
Are all OPD cases turned over to the USPS?
They should be, but they are not always, and therefore OPD numbers are not always in agreement with USPS.
What kind of data does the USPS provide on reported cases of mail theft?
The USPS provides some data on reported cases of mail theft, but they are, in our opinion, not representative of the actual amount of mail theft going on in our area.