December 10

Neighbor praises new police response to mail theft



Ten minutes.

That’s how long it took three police squad cars to arrive after a neighbor reported mail thieves in action.

Got them, too.

From an email this morning:

Yesterday afternoon I noticed two individuals (Caucasian female and Caucasian male, roughly mid 20s to early 30s) peering at homes, but otherwise just walking leisurely down the sidewalk (Eighth Avenue Northeast).

I readily acknowledge walking in the city isn’t a crime! They had no bags, and also didn’t have jackets, only sweatshirts (which I found odd as temperatures were in the low 50s).

Thirty minutes later I observed them with brown cardboard packages. He had a large package that appeared to be difficult to carry (2′ x 2′ x 2′) and she had 3-4 smaller packages.

I called 911 and provided the dispatcher with a description and the direction they were traveling.

Before SPD’s arrival, the male and female disposed of the packages (presumably storing them in a car or other location); they then started looking for more packages.

At that point, Seattle PD apprehended them (less than 10 minutes after my phone call, with 3 cruisers responding).

The response by the officers was swift and efficient. From my perspective, it was a significantly more positive experience than neighbors had 1-2 weeks ago (vehicles damaged). For reference, the incident # is 15-427242.

Let’s hope yesterday’s intervention slows down the holiday mail and package theft!

Also, see the Dec. 6th comment from Alarmed! in this recent post:

There seemed like a lot of signs of mail theft and we wanted the reminder to go get the mail when it arrived. Little did we know how often our chime would go off. Boy, were we shocked!

We’ve had the chime for a couple months now, and our mailbox has been opened by someone who is not us about once a week for at least the last 6 weeks. Usually on a weekend night. Usually around 11 p.m. – 1 a.m. Occasionally 4-5 a.m. Usually when it’s raining.

Other recent mail theft reports from Nextdoor Northgate/Maple Leaf:

Dec 7th: “All 5 of the mail boxes we share a stand with were open when I left for work this morning. I thought I heard a car door open and close around 10ish p.m. last night. Guess I probably did. Just a friendly reminder to not leave your mail in your box overnight.”

Nov 30th: “On a walk this morning, I found a pile of mail on Northgate Way Northeast east of 20th Avenue Northeast. The mail was from one address on the 1900 block of Northgate. I placed the mail on the post next to the mailbox with that address (some of the mail seemed to be important *and* time sensitive). I did file a report with the USPS.”

Nov. 4th: “We live on Northeast 102nd Street between Eighth Avenue Northeast and Roosevelt Way Northeast. All the mailboxes in our mailbox group were pried open today. These are all locking mailboxes. They actually left them open with the mail they didn’t want left there.”

About the author 

Sara W

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  1. I’ve yet to hear of any of these getting broken in to. And once you split the cost with your neighbors they’re usually around $100.

    MLL: Jim has emailed with suggestions for those wanting locking, group mailboxes:
    “I have some information about getting a cluster mailbox unit for a street.

    First the person who will order the unit will need to find out from his neighbors how many want the unit. The cost of the unit depends on the size of the unit.The units can be quite small or in the case of a large one the unit can be used by 12 people. The cost of the unit depends on how big of a unit you order. Make sure to order a metal unit since there are plastic ones out there that are easier to break into. The website to go to is
    “Some things to keep in mind if you do get a unit. The people using the unit own the unit. The only part of the unit that the post office has will be the key to open the doors for delivering the mail. If someone has a car accident and takes out the unit the people using it will have to buy a new one. The folks who will be using the unit have to do their own installation. This includes making a very thick concrete pad for the unit to be bolted onto and then bolting on the unit to the pad.
    “Before ordering the unit make sure to talk to the post office that you will be doing this for your street. The post office will tell you where you can put the unit.
    “I think this covers all the issues about getting a unit. If the person who was asking on the blog needs more information please give me their email address and I’ll email them about their questions.”

    Sincerely, Jim Sanford

  2. Our theft happened in the middle of the night on the 23rd, we aren’t sure what time. My gf awoke to the sound, thinking it was just someone getting into a car parked in front of the mailboxes, but she looked at and saw it pull away. We didn’t realize they were breaking into them until the next day when 3 of the 4 were hanging open. She didn’t look at the time, but thinks it was between 3am-5am. I’ve talked to a number of people hit the same night. I’m guessing they are quite organized and hit hundreds.

    All three that got broken into were these:

    The one that stayed locked had an anti-pry lip above the lower opening and a barrel lock, they cost twice as much, but are probably worth it:

  3. Dan – about what time did she see them?

    Our locking mailbox was hit last night too.

    We installed that because our mail was stolen from our traditional mailbox soon after buying this house!

  4. 3 or the 4 locking mailboxes on our stand were all pried open last night. My girlfriend heard the noise, she caught a glimpse of a non-identifiable maroon or red car pulling away. They are doing drivebys and prying open the locking mailboxes. We have to be vigilant about this neighbors and catch them, it’s getting out of hand.

  5. FYI, the mail prowls have continued. Our box has been opened twice a week since this post. Opened on 12/20/2015 at about 1 a.m. and again tonight. Recently talked to a neighbor whose outgoing mail was stolen before the mail carrier was able to pick it up and to another neighbor whose delivered mail was taken, gone through, and tossed into some nearby bushes.

  6. I just had a package stolen last week. A nice neighbor found the box down the street and brought it to me, but the contents were gone and replaced with another neighbor’s mail. I actually blame my mailman though, they delivered it while we had a mail hold and were out of town, so it could have sat on my porch for days before getting stolen.

  7. It’s awesome they got caught. Mail and package thieves tend to commit a huge amount of thefts each, so just one or two arrests has a big impact.

  8. Richard:

    I suggest you make your request directly to SPD rather than leaving a comment on a neighborhood blog.
    Also, good luck with #3 being “public record”.

  9. The following should be in the public record, and we would like to know.

    1. What are the full names of the thieves?
    2. Did the thieves have previous criminal records, and, if so, for what crimes, and what (if any) sentence did they receive?
    3. What were the thieves planning to do with the items they stole?
    4. What (if anything) will happen to these thieves now, in addition to them being told, don’t do this again or else?

  10. Exact same problems, Ravenna Ave and
    Wedgwood reported on NextDoor blog and there have been a huge number of reports of mail boxes robbed, locked ones broken into and packages stolen. Maybe there is a larger gang operating together or on their own.

  11. I’m glad the police finally picked some of these folks up, but sadly all our street’s boxes were all opened overnight anyway. Spread the word that sending outgoing mail from your box is a bad idea, as is leaving mail overnight. Even those “security” mailboxes are routinely pried open, so you can’t count on those either. One of our elderly neighbors was putting checks in outgoing mail in the evening, and she didn’t even know several checks had been stolen, so if you see a neighbour using their red flag on their box, tell them why they shouldn’t. New renters also need to know, since they may not realize there’s a mail theft problem.

  12. A faster and better response would have been a good beating by all the neighbors. In ten minutes they could have had the crap beat out of them and the neighbors gone before the police arrived.

  13. I’m on the corner of 8th and 92nd. I just realized I had a package taken on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 28th. Is expecting it on the Monday, so hadn’t quite put it together, but just finalized with the sender that it was delivered that day. Hope they enjoyed my McSweeney’s quarterly. 🙁

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