Gainesville Daily Register

January 14, 2013

Sheriff: Thieves targeting rural mailboxes

By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer

Valley View — Cooke County law enforcement went on alert Thursday for suspects connected to a string of mail robberies.

Sheriff Terry Gilbert said several rural mailboxes in the southeast section of the county — Valley View and Mountain Springs, chiefly — were targeted by thieves during the past week.

More than 10 residents have reported missing mail and more than one person may be responsible.

“They’re looking for checks they can cash and credit cards that have been ordered,” Gilbert said. “And they really love it when people have ordered checks from a company, and so now they’ve got a stack of blank checks. So it’s things like that, and what we’re finding is that whatever they don’t want is found in bar ditches on the side of the road.”

Gilbert said he received complaints about the mail robberies Thursday and talked to a KXII television reporter the same day, but hasn’t heard any more reports.

Postal employees in Valley View, he added, are also dealing with the situation.

“We’re more or less waiting until someone realizes something’s missing before they call us and we make a report,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert served the county as a constable before beginning service as sheriff on Jan. 1. He said Saturday that his prior experience in law enforcement has included dealing with stolen goods, but this string of mail robberies is unique.

“It happens from time to time but it’s usually not this concentrated,” he said. “I would call this a rash.”

The sheriff also issued a reminder that stealing mail is a federal offense, carrying a possible sentence of several years for each item taken.

During the coming days, deputies will increase their patrol volume in the reported target area in hopes of spotting a suspect.

“We’re trying to be on top of it as much as we can,” Gilbert said. “But we’re asking for help from the public to watch for cars near mailboxes, for any suspicious vehicles. Also, they should gather their mail as quickly as possible so it won’t be a target.”