VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Neighbors in the Kempsville Lake area of Virginia Beach are on high alert. Some homeowners think thieves broke into their mailboxes some time between Thursday and Friday morning.
Resident Luis Torres said he's feeling shocked and surprised.
"This is a federal crime; this is not good," Torres said.
Torres found his mailbox and another near Bayshire Court and Weller Boulevard pried open Friday afternoon.
It's a unit shared with dozens of other neighbors in the Kempsville Lake community. 13News Now found another mailbox a street over on Ledura Road tampered with.
"Sensitive information comes by mail -- your financial data, which they can use," Torres mentioned.
He suspects thieves may have targeted checks.
"Typical of the end of the month, especially Social Security checks for retirees, if anyone is getting it or even some check refunds, you never know," said Torres.
He doesn't think he lost anything valuable. Homeowner Tony Mirabel doesn't think so either, but he's not yet sure what mail he could be missing. He said his wife's checks didn't get stolen, though.
Mirabel pledged to keep an eye out for the person or persons responsible.
"If I see them or hear about them, I'm going to be the first one to call the police," he said.
Proud of his neighborhood, Mirabel said he refuses to feel discouraged.
"It's not going to change anything. Someone is not starting a new trend or a reign of terror."
Another neighbor told reporters off-camera that he reported the situation to post office officials and the Virginia Beach Police Department.
However, at last check with a postal inspector, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (PIS) has not yet received reports of mail tampering or mail theft in the Kempsville Lake area.
Victims are encouraged to contact the agency and file a complaint at 877-876-2455.
We also received the following statement from PIS:
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (the federal law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service) will conduct an investigation into any mail tampering/mail theft complaints. Postal Inspectors routinely work with local law enforcement agencies to investigate these crimes. We would like to offer the following mail theft prevention tips for our customers.
- When possible, deposit outgoing mail inside the Post Office, place it in your outgoing mail at your place of business or physically hand it to your mail carrier.
- Do not leave your mail or parcels unattended—especially overnight. Ask a friend or neighbor to retrieve your packages if necessary.
- Request “Hold Mail Service” at www.USPS.com for your mail to be held while you are away.
- Never send cash by mail. If you send a gift card, maintain a copy of the receipt for tracking purposes.
- If you feel you are a victim of mail theft, report it to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service by calling 877-876-2455 or by filing a report online at www.USPIS.gov.
Theft of U.S. Mail is a federal offense and carries a punishment of up to 5 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for each offense (18 U.S.C. 1708). If anyone has any information regarding this offense, they are encouraged to call 877-876-2455.
For more information about the U.S. Postal Inspection Service as well as mail theft, mail fraud and other investigations conducted by Postal Inspectors, visit our website at www.USPIS.gov.