The Sheriff has arrested multiple people for stealing mail and other identity theft related crimes. In some cases, these crimes date back months. Below is the official notice about the mail theft which affected about 100 victims in the areas from Thousand Oaks to Calabasas and beyond.
The long and short of it is that you should no longer use your personal mailbox as a way to send mail. Mail theft is now common enough that “mail boxing” has become a verb among the criminal community.
You should drop your mail, instead, in a blue USPS mailbox or at the post office.
If you do suspect mail theft, contact the Sheriff for your area and let them know. Information is what helps them catch thieves. And, if you see anyone suspicious around mailboxes, take down descriptions of them and their vehicles and report that as well.
The below text has been released by the Malibu Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station:
Based on an on-going burglar investigation, Malibu Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station Detective Bureau personnel arrested Jay Yang and Amanda Prescott of Agoura Hills, David Lundgren of Westlake Village for theft of mail, identity theft, forgery/fraud, and grand theft of monies. And, there are additional arrests and investigations ongoing.
Recovered from Mr. Yang’s residence was stolen mail of approximately 100 victims who reside in the following cities: Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Calabasas, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Simi Valley, and Ventura County. Malibu/Lost Hills’ detectives will be contacting each of the victims to provide details of the recovered items.
The recovered evidence provided a reminder to all our communities that there is a criminal element among us. Mail theft has become an intricate method to steal identity or obtain monies unlawfully. In fact the term “mail boxing” has become a verb in the criminal nomenclature. Generally speaking, the criminals will remove mail from unsecured mail boxes to create identities or to “adjust” the victims’ checks in order to cash the checks and obtain monies unlawfully.
The theft of ones’ identity is accomplished by the criminal obtaining personal information from the stolen mail. This information can consist of SSN, credit card numbers, residential addresses, phone numbers, and bank account information. Once the false identity is created, the suspect will open credit card accounts or loans, causing harm to the victim of the original mail theft. Additionally, stolen credit card account numbers are used to make fraudulent purchases.
Additionally, the criminal will also “wash” the stolen checks which were obtained from the unsecured mail boxes. This consists of the criminal modifying the payee information and/or the amount of the check. This will allow the suspect to write their name on the check and to cash the “valid” check. Commonly, most persons who write checks verify that a specific check number had cleared, although they do not verify either the amount or who the payee was.
In order to reduce the likelihood of becoming a mail or identity theft victim, Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriffs’ Station Detective Bureau recommends adhering to the following guidelines:
1. Do not place bill payments or other types of identity sensitive documents in a mailbox that can not be locked.
2. Mail sensitive documents by using US Post offices or secured mailboxes.
3. Reduce the amount of “pre-approved” credit card or loan applications that you receive in the mail.
4. When verifying that a check has been cashed, verify that the payee or amount have not been modified.
5. If you observe persons accessing mailboxes in your neighborhood, note the person’s description and if possible, a vehicle description and license plate, and immediately contact your local law enforcement agency.
Malibu/Lost Hills Station provides more detailed information regarding identity theft via the Community Relations Unit. Please do not hesitate to contact Community Relations Deputy Shawn Brownell at (818) 878-5506 if you would like additional information.