Updated on April 7th, 2024

Mail theft can be a distressing experience, especially when you are eagerly awaiting an important package or letter that never arrives. Imagine being away from home, anxiously anticipating the delivery, only to find out that it has gone missing. Is it a case of mail theft, or has it simply been lost in transit? This uncertainty can be unnerving. The unfortunate reality is that thieves often target mail, and their actions can cause significant inconvenience and even financial losses for individuals and businesses alike.

Each year, thousands of mail and package thieves are apprehended by law enforcement agencies, underscoring the severity of this issue.

These criminals exploit vulnerabilities in the postal system, preying on unattended mailboxes and packages left unattended on doorsteps. The consequences of mail theft extend beyond the immediate inconvenience, as sensitive personal information and valuable items can be compromised. It is crucial to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to protect your mail. By utilizing secure mailboxes, tracking packages, and promptly reporting any suspicious activity to the authorities, you can help safeguard your mail from potential theft.


How common is mail theft

The scale of mail theft in the country is staggering. For instance, USPS claims that there are as many as 1.7 million cases of mail thefts daily. Over a third (36%) of all Americans who deal with the postal service have once experienced a mail theft case. What’s more, the figures indicate that the problem may not be abating soon. 

For instance, the National Retail Federation stipulates that the victims of package thefts may have increased to 43% of users in 2020. Reports of these package thefts lodged with the Postal Inspection Service increased by a staggering 600% in three years

  • Increased Thefts: Reports in 2023 suggested a continuation of the upward trend in package thefts. SafeWise studies estimated over 119 million packages stolen in 2023, with financial losses reaching $6 billion.
  • Victim Percentage Uncertainty: While the 43% victim rate from 2020 might not directly reflect 2023, Security.org’s 2023 report indicated 17% of Americans had a package stolen in the past three months (roughly 44 million people). This suggests a potential decrease, but it’s not a confirmed national percentage.

The economic implications of these thefts are pretty significant, as mail service users lose $30 billion yearly. Unfortunately, the government does not appear capable of fixing the problem. 

For one, the PIS could only make about 2,500 arrests for mail larceny-related cases. As such, you need to establish precautions to protect your packages against this crime.

Here, we examine the nuisance of mail theft and the safeguards you can install to ensure maximum safety of your mail.

What is Mail Theft? How Dangerous is it? And Why Should I Be Aware of It?

Mail theft, also known as letterboxing, happens when a person deliberately takes mail that does not belong to them for whatever purposes. While it manifests in several ways, the most popular forms of mail theft include mailbox looting, package theft, and mailbox fishing

People who typically commit these crimes include petty criminals, cyber fraudsters, and even postal service employees.

The aims of mail thieves can range from identity theft to other forms of fraud, which involve using the details of the person whose mail they stole. For instance, these postal pirates can use sensitive data to open credit card accounts or apply for loans in your name. 

They may also sell your identity to other fraudsters who may use the information to perpetrate all forms of unlawful acts that may put you in dire situations. 


Types of personal information thieves can collect.

The sensitive information that mail thieves can collect include and which can be used to commit fraud include:

  •     Name and address
  •     Social Security Number (SSN)
  •     Telephone numbers
  •     Email address(es)
  •     Credit card and bank account information
  •     Pre-approved credit card offers
  •     Employment history.
  •     Other physical items that you receive.


How to report mail theft?

If you suspect mail theft, it is essential to report the incident promptly. Reporting mail theft can help authorities take necessary action and recover your stolen mail. The process of reporting mail theft varies depending on whether you are dealing with packages that have tracking numbers or letter mail/packages without tracking. To report mail theft, you can follow the steps outlined below:

Report Mail Theft
Packages with Tracking Letter Mail and / or Packages without Tracking
To submit a report for theft of a package with a Tracking Number, select “Where is my package?” to complete the form. To submit a report for theft of letter mail or a package without a Tracking Number, select “Where is my mail?” to complete the form.
Personal Mailbox Vandalism
No evidence of Mail Theft Evidence of Mail Theft
  1. Notify your local police
  2. Place your mail on hold if needed, until you repair or replace your box.
  3. Contact your Local Post Office if you need further assistance.
  1. Notify your local police
  2. Place your mail on hold if needed, until you repair or replace your box.
  3. Report mail theft by following steps 1-5, above.


Who investigates mail theft?

The United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) is responsible for investigating cases of mail theft. They are a federal law enforcement agency dedicated to protecting the integrity and security of the postal system. If you suspect mail theft, it is crucial to report the incident to the USPIS. You can file a complaint with them by visiting their official website or by calling their toll-free number at 1-877-876-2455. They have the expertise and resources to investigate and address instances of mail theft, ensuring that the perpetrators are held accountable. By reporting mail theft to the USPIS, you contribute to their efforts in safeguarding the mail and preventing future incidents.


How to Protect Your Mail From Theft?

If you take a brief look at the information that mail thieves typically prospect for, you will agree that they are very delicate and that you can become highly vulnerable to dishonest persons. Sadly, government agencies don’t consider this a priority, as there is a significant gap between the number of cases and arrests. 

In essence, you have to assume the protection of your mail. The steps you can take to protect your mailbox include:

  • Promptly pick up your mail
    One more common way thieves get to your mail is to access it after delivery but before picking it up. Thus, an adequate safeguard is to get to your mail before the pirate does.
  • Notify the Postal Service of Changes in Address
    If you change locations, promptly notify the Postal agency of the changes as failure to do so will have your mail staying several days in the old mailbox. This scenario presents a perfect opportunity for mail fraudsters to get in your mailbox.

  • Get a Mail Locker
    Being timely in picking your mail may not be feasible at all times, as you may be away when the mail drops. For instance, of the 23 million online shoppers who experienced package theft in 2019, about 74% were at work when the looters stole their parcels. As such, you need a more effective security tool, which presents itself in the form of a Mail lock. The mail lock ensures that not just anyone gets access to your mailbox.
  • A Post Office (PO) Box Maybe More Secure
    All correspondence or items stored in a post office box will remain securely stored until you come to pick them, which means no other person accesses them. However, you should be aware of the downsides of the PO box.

  • Adopt Technology
    You can fight mail piracy by employing technological tools such as a motion-sensing camera around your home, which monitors any tampering with the mailbox.

  • Mail Outgoing Mail from a USPS Mail Drop
    The mailbox will always be a target for thieves. To avoid this, you are dropping your mail in a USPS mail drop box instead of a mailbox.


How to Prevent Mail Theft with High-Security Mailboxes?

As Amazon has become the central point for parcel delivery theft, several steps have been taken to avoid victims. In Seattle, it is pretty standard as crimes of opportunity often take place. It’s wise to take the following steps:

  1. Empty Your Mailbox Daily by Daily
    Stealing mail requires time, effort, and a little luck. It’s easier to avoid being robbed if you promptly empty your mailbox.
  2. Install a High-Security Mailbox
    Traditional mailboxes don’t have a secure door- anyone can open it and get your mail. Some mailboxes provide a plastic bin where the mail is slid, making them easy to break into.
  3. Mail Outgoing Mail from a USPS Mail Drop
    Mail is a common target for thieves. Drop your mail in a USPS mail drop box instead of a mailbox to avoid this.


Is stealing mail a felony?

Stealing mail is indeed considered a felony and a federal crime in the United States. The act of mail theft involves unlawfully taking, opening, or tampering with mail that does not belong to you.

Due to its serious nature and potential impact on individuals and businesses, mail theft is treated as a federal offense. The punishment for mail theft can vary depending on the specific circumstances and the jurisdiction, but it generally carries severe penalties.

Those convicted of mail theft may face significant fines, imprisonment, or both. The classification of mail theft as a felony underscores the importance of protecting the privacy, security, and integrity of the mail system.

Federal law enforcement agencies, such as the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), are responsible for investigating and prosecuting mail theft cases.

Their efforts aim to deter such criminal activities and ensure the safety of the mail. Recognizing mail theft as a felony emphasizes the gravity of the offense and serves as a deterrent against engaging in such illegal behavior. It is crucial to respect the law, respect the privacy of others, and contribute to maintaining the trust and reliability of the postal system.


Why is a high-security mailbox vital to you?

A sturdy & secure mailbox at home is a great way to keep your mail safe and out of the elements. It also offers several benefits:

  • Identity Protection – It’s one of the scariest things to think about, but identity theft happens all the time. And it can have significant impacts on your finances and legal standing. From destroying your credit score to making legal troubles, the costs of identity theft are often huge.
  • Protects Your Stuff – No matter the gift, nobody wants their identity stolen.
  • Peace of Mind – a feeling of being safe or protected.


Think About the Consequences of Not Having A Secure Mailbox!

The mail is an essential tool for communication, but it can also invite criminals to steal your personal information. That’s why you must take steps to protect your mailbox from theft.

There are a variety of ways that you can keep your mailbox secure, and there are some simple things that you can do to protect yourself from mailbox thieves.


Prevent mail theft with a secure virtual mailbox

While all the above strategies can be effective, they don’t eliminate the chances of larcenists targeting and misappropriating your mail. What’s more, circumstances may arise that expose your mail to unwanted interference. 

For instance, your mailbox may be complete, causing your mailman to drop your mail elsewhere. Also, private companies who don’t use the postal service may merely stack mail outside your door instead of in the box. 

There’s, however, an almost perfect fix in the virtual mail service. The virtual mail service automatically digitizes your correspondence, providing you with easier access while offering top-notch security against mail thieves. 

When you register for a virtual mailbox, you will receive a secure virtual mailbox address that only you can access. You can be confident that your mail won’t be intercepted or stolen because the virtual mailbox is not located at any physical location.


Who Provides the Best Virtual Mailbox Service?

Choosing a virtual mailbox provider that values your security is highly necessary. However, if you want to get the most value for your money, you need a provider with good customer service, convenience. For instance, they should notify you whenever you get a package.

Amongst the several providers out there, PostScan Mail is an excellent service. PostScan Mail offers a full array of services that present you with a wholesome mail service. One of such services is maximum security. PostScan Mail ensures that all mail is processed in a secure facility, is monitored 24/7 with cameras and security experts present.

Unlike its competitors, Post Scan Mail has also attained the SOC-2 certification. This means they meet all recommended safety requirements and have a receipt & management system for received mail. 

PostScan Mail observes the highest security standards, extending to its employees. Everyone who handles mail through a background check has the appropriate training and is properly versed in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards.


Final Thoughts

While there are several possible strategies to implement to make your mailboxes more secure, the fact is they will always be susceptible to tampering. You can, however, end all of these by taking your mailbox virtual. 

A virtual mailbox is much better than the traditional mailbox as they offer everything the physical letterbox does not. They are highly secure and provide you with privacy since they use advanced encryption and data protection protocols. 

Furthermore, you get maximum comfort and ease since you can get the content of your mail from anywhere you are in the world. 


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