On the afternoon of Wednesday, November 6, we discovered a large plastic bag at the edge of the roadway in the 11300 block of SW 168th Street. In the bag were about 350 pieces of mail stolen out of mailboxes; about one third was addressed to 25 homes in the area near where the bag was found, and the rest to addresses in Homestead and Cutler Ridge.
This matter was duly reported to the so called U.S. Postal Inspection Service and to the Miami-Dade Police on Thursday morning November 7. Subsequently, the matter was reported to both enforcement agencies by other citizens.
To date, no one has had a meaningful response from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (1-877-876-2455 ). Accordingly, since there were many important pieces of mail including, tax notices, bills, medical information, etc., we endeavored ourselves to deliver the local pieces to the appropriate mailboxes from which they were stolen. We were unable , however, to deliver/return the 200+ pieces from Homestead or Cutler Ridge. Finally, we were able to turn this stolen mail over to the local Post Office at Quail Roost.
During our investigation, we have uncovered situations where mail was opened and checks, credit cards, etc. removed therefrom. We also located a resident who videoed theft of U.S. mail from their mailbox and their front porch—including close-ups of the thief and his automobile which had apparently been following closely behind a U.S. mail truck to watch its package delivery. After the porch theft, the subject almost ran down the mailman with his auto as the resident chased him down the street. NO ONE in the Postal Service seems the least bit interested in any of this.
After some time, we did receive a brief response from the Metro-Dade Police Department (MDPD). We hope they will publish a formal statement making clear our current understanding of the matter, but we will relate it here. Theft of U.S. mail letters/packages from mailboxes or property is a federal crime. Tampering with or vandalizing mailboxes is a federal crime. Accordingly, the police have limited powers in these matters. Local police are only authorized to
do the following:
(1) If you actually see mail being stolen, or vandalism/tampering in progress, you should call 9-1-1 and report a “crime in progress.” The MDPD will respond and attempt to apprehend the vandals/thieves. If they are successful in witnessing and apprehension, they may detain the perpetrators until they can be turned over to federal authorities. They have no further responsibility.
(2) If you suffer theft of a package or mail item addressed to you in the U.S. Mail that has value to it, you may request (at 305-4-POLICE) that the MDPD pay you a visit and write a report of the incident. They will record the particulars of the theft and give you a numbered report “case card” that you can use for theft verification for insurance purposes. Because the crime is federal, however, they may possibly report it to federal authorities, but they cannot really investigate your theft. You must report the crime yourself to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
If you suffer theft of a package/letter delivered by a commercial entity, however, (e.g., UPS, FEDEX, DHL, Amazon Prime, etc.), the rules are different. Such a theft is a state crime, and the local police have full authority to act on it just like if someone stole your auto or your lawn mower. If you see the theft in progress, call 9-1-1 and report “crime in progress.” Note for them that you believe the deliverer is not the U.S. Mail Service. If the crime has already occurred and you have suffered a loss, report it at 305-4-POLICE. MDPD will respond as soon as they can, write you a report, and, if feasible, fully investigate the crime that caused your loss.
Those concerned with U.S. Postal theft would do everyone a great service by calling the so called U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 1-877-876-2455 and your local Congress person and demanding to know how they plan to better protect us (and their mailmen) against this rampant thievery.
It should be noted that the U.S. Postal Inspection Service does provide useful information on how to protect yourself against mail/package theft at their website: https://www.uspis.gov/tips-prevention/mail-theft/
For further protection you may want to consider using Informed Delivery® by USPS®. Digitally preview your mail and manage your packages scheduled to arrive soon! Informed Delivery allows you to view greyscale images of the exterior, address side of letter-sized mail pieces and track packages in one convenient location.*