By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Valley View —
The lookout for suspects in a series of rural mail thefts remains focused.
Cooke County Sheriff Terry Gilbert, who explained in the weekend’s Register story that more than 10 residents complained of mailbox theft during the past week, said the apparent target area of Valley View and Mountain Springs has had no new cases.
“We’ve not heard of any more victims,” he said Tuesday. “Hopefully the press and the extra eyes have slowed it, and we’re still on top of things.”
During the weekend story, Gilbert said the “rash” of thefts likely involves more than one suspect with the objective of finding items to cash in.
“They’re looking for checks they can cash and credit cards that have been ordered,” Gilbert said Saturday. “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 also reminded that stealing mail is a federal offense — carrying a possible sentence of several years for each item taken. He also said his deputies were on path to increase their patrol volume in the southeast portion of the county in hopes of catching suspects.
On Jan. 9, Valley View residents received a letter from the Fort Worth division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. It urged them to contact their bank or issuing entity if they found items in their mailbox that appeared tampered with or opened. The letter encouraged residents who suspect theft to call (877) 876-2455 or visit postalinspectors.uspis.gov and file complaints.
It also included these precautionary tips:
• Do not leave outgoing or incoming mail in your mailbox overnight or for extended periods of time. Even locked mailboxes are targeted by mail thieves.
• Take your outgoing mail, especially items of a confidential or monetary nature, and drop it inside the post office for mailing.
• Shred unwanted credit card convenience checks and credit card offers so that they cannot be removed from the garbage and used.
• Make arrangements for someone to pick up your mail or have it held at the post office when you are away.
• Review your financial statements monthly to make sure there are no unauthorized charges.
• Review your credit report at least once a year.