In the early morning hours of Thursday, May 18, a witness described seeing three individuals opening a community mailbox on Newhall Ranch Road and transferring its contents to their vehicle. The next day, deputies spotted a vehicle matching the description of the one used in the mail theft and conducted a traffic stop.
Upon searching the vehicle, deputies discovered numerous letters and packages strewn about the interior. There were so may packages that deputies initially didn’t know there was a third suspect hiding beneath it all on the floor of the automobile.
The three suspects who were arrested are in their early 20s and live in the San Fernando Valley. They’re currently being held in lieu of $20,000 bail each.
Mail theft is covered under California Penal Code 530.5(e) PC and can be charged when an individual:
- Steals or takes mail from a mailbox, authorized letter repository or mail carrier
- Uses fraud or deception to obtain or attempt to obtain mail from one of the above sources
- Removes the contents of any stolen mail
- Destroys or hides stolen mail
- Buy, receive, or unlawfully possess any stolen mail, knowing that it was stolen
The term “mail” in California law refers to letters, postcards, packages and bags.
Mail theft is a misdemeanor with the possible penalties including summary probation, up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Most of the time, when people commit mail theft, their goal isn’t to steal someone’s mail for the sole purpose of stealing their mail. Their intention is to steal mail that contains personal identifying information for the purpose of committing identity theft. Interestingly, one of the suspects recently arrested in Santa Clarita for mail theft has a criminal record which includes charges of identity theft. It’s possible that the mail theft that recently occurred was in an effort to commit the crime again.