Mail theft in the East Bay and throughout California has been on the rise in recent years. This could involve people taking packages to sell whatever products were inside. It also often involves identity theft, using the information found in the mail to purchase goods, apply for services, or cash checks under someone else's name. Individuals arrested for mail theft face not only California criminal charges, but may also face federal criminal charges.
In Pleasant Hill, police officers were responding to a report of suspected mail theft. When they arrived, they approached the suspect who was getting into a parked car. When she saw the police, she took off running. Police caught up to her and placed her under arrest on suspicion of mail theft. She also had a warrant out for her arrest on other felony charges.
Mail theft can be charged as a California state criminal offense, or as a federal crime. Under 18 U.S.C. 1708, whoever steals, takes, or fraudulently obtains any letter, postcard, package back or mail can face up to 5 years in a federal prison. This includes taking mail from a home, post office, business, or taking mail that was left to be picked up by the post office.
Under California Penal Code 530.5, anyone who commits mail theft as defined under the United States Code is guilty of a public offense, and a conviction is punishable by up to a year in prison. However, mail theft charges can also lead to charges for identity theft, which can result in a longer prison sentence.
In some cases, thieves are targeting post office drop boxes. Police have reports of individuals placing a sticky substance inside the lid of a post office mail drop box. Pieces of mail can get stuck on the sticky lid, and thieves can return to grab the stuck mail.
In Los Angeles, video footage caught a couple of suspects going through a neighborhood targeting every single mailbox on the street. A car would drive alongside a jogger. The jogger would open the mailbox and toss the mail through the window of the accompanying car. These mail thefts often occur just after the postal carrier delivers the mail.
Police officers in Napa have reportedly busted an identity theft ring that may have affected hundreds of residents. A 30-year-old woman was arrested and charged with multiple felonies, including mail theft and identity theft. Police were investigating a report of someone opening a credit card in another person's name. This led them to the Oakland address of Corrinne Marie Billette. During the search, police found stolen mail from three states, and 22 California cities, including parts of the East Bay.
If you are arrested for mail theft, your arrest does not have to end in a conviction. With more than 30 years of experience defending people facing theft and other criminal charges in the East Bay, Lynn Gorelick understands the local laws and penalties involved. Contact a local East Bay criminal defense attorney who understands the charges you are facing, and will fight for your rights.