Two recent strings of mail thefts in the Kalama and Woodland areas are concerning, but there’s no indication yet that they’re part of a larger pattern, representatives from the Postal Service and sheriff’s office said.
The Cowlitz County Auditor’s Office learned of 15 special election ballots scattered along Old Highway 99 near Kalama on Feb. 1. They came from two streets and likely were discarded by someone stealing mail from a string of mailboxes, the Auditor’s office said. On Feb. 24, another group of mailboxes was emptied at the intersection of Hansen Road and Eagle Point Drive east of Woodland.
Adam Sale, postal inspector for Oregon and Southwest Washington, said the postal service gets mail theft calls every day.
“Every mail theft is important to us, and we investigate every one,” Sale said. “Generally (though), these are not patterns. It could be the same people, but it’s impossible to know until we have somebody in custody.”
He added that frequency of mail theft depends on location. For customers who leave their mail overnight or in non-locking mailboxes, “it happens more than we like.”
Cowlitz County Chief Criminal Deputy Charlie Rosenzweig said there’s nothing so far to suggest something unusual is happening.
“(This) happens occasionally,” Rosenzweig said, “(but) nothing’s been brought to my attention to suggest that it’s a widespread concern; not to say that those cases are not being investigated.”
He recommended that if someone believes their mail has been stolen, they should carefully monitor their financial records to prevent fraud and unauthorized financial transactions.
Sale said victims should also report mail thefts to the postal service to assist in their investigations. He also recommended customers always collect their mail on the day of delivery or ask the post office to hold their mail.
“We don’t leave valuable items sitting on our front porch,” Sale said, “and (it’s) the same thing with mail.”