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Fighting back against rising mail theft

Action News Now's Hayley Watts investigates what you can do if thieves target your mailbox

Posted: Jun 25, 2021 6:37 PM
Updated: Jun 26, 2021 2:59 PM

CHICO, Calif. - From porch pirates the lockbox break-ins, mail theft is an ongoing problem.

When thieves targeted my neighborhood - I took my frustrations to the feds.

"Online shopping was already popular before the pandemic," said U.S. Postal Inspector Matthew Norfleet.

Earlier this month, one package after another, and another were reported delivered, but never arrived.

Turns out, it happens all the time.

"Thieves are always looking for gift cards, personal information, birthday cards with cash in there," said Chico Crime Prevention Officer Ed Nelson.

"People getting their mail is the entire reason for the existence of the postal service, so absolutely it's a high priority for us," said Norfleet. "Unauthorized possession of those keys is a crime and we take it very seriously."

Norfleet said nationwide, the feds make about 2,000 mail theft arrests a year.

That's about 1% of the 177,000 cases of mail theft reported in 2020 alone.

Chico Police explained while I may never get that stolen tea back, there are a few things we can all do to protect ourselves.

"If you have something valuable being mailed to you, check your mail every day, don't let it sit in the mailbox for a week before you check it," Nelson said. "Have it sent you your house or your business."

And if you have home surveillance footage, check it. It can go a long way in helping police find the thief.

"We get valuable information from ring cameras and private security cameras regularly," Norfleet said.

"If we get video evidence of a crime, very often it's somebody that our officers know, we can email it internally, see if anyone recognizes the burglar and put a warrant out," Nelson said.

Plus, Nelson recommends you get to know your neighbors and look out for one another because the threat isn't going away.

"No matter how paperless we go, there's always going to be that physical mail in your mailbox so you need to do what you can do to protect that mail," Nelson said.

You can report mail theft online at

Also, contact Chico Police's Ed Nelson at for help in starting your own neighborhood watch group.

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