DETROIT (WXYZ) — Multiple people in the area are facing federal charges for their involvement in a mail theft string which leads to identity theft in some cases.
According to court documents obtained by 7 Action News, there are more than 800 victims spread across the metro area. Bloomfield, Farmington Hills, Novi, Franklin, and Southfield are just a handful of the cities mail thieves are hitting.
"That accounted for a large part of our crime problem for that year and a half," said Dan Roberts. He's the police chief of Franklin. “Certainly, several thousands of dollars we’ve had in loss from one particular family which is very unfortunate.”
One Franklin resident lost about $14,000 worth of business checks that were stolen from their mailbox.
Debit cards were also stolen and used a Target in Farmington Hills and a Meijer in Southfield. According to the court documents, the investigation headed by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service started when residents started complaining about missing mail, letters in ditches in wooded areas and specific mail wasn't being delivered.
Ronald Reese, Malik Fraizer and Cole Castelow are facing multiple charges including aggravated identity theft and theft of mail.
As investigators continue to seek victims and suspects, Chief Roberts does have some tips for the community.
“If they see cars following a mail truck for example or if they see cars pulling up to mailboxes, please give us a call so we can have an officer check that out," Roberts adds. He says if you, “It’s much better off if you take your bill right to the post office or a blue box.”
Statement from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service:
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement and security arm of the Postal Service, asks customers to help us fight mail theft by following these steps to safeguard their mail and packages: collect delivered mail and packages promptly, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to retrieve your mail if you will not be home at the time of delivery, customize your delivery by providing special delivery instructions, and track expected packages to stay up to date on their location and expected delivery times. If you believe your mail was stolen, we encourage you to report it immediately by submitting an online complaint at www.uspis.gov [uspis.gov] or calling us at 877-876-2455. By analyzing information from your complaint, Postal Inspectors can determine if your problem is part of a larger mail theft issue in your neighborhood – and your input may help Inspectors locate and apprehend the thieves.”