ROSEVILLE, Minn. (KMSP) - Police in Roseville, Minnesota arrested three suspects last week during an undercover operation targeting mail theft. Officers recovered a journal in which one of the suspects wrote an entry titled “Places to hit mbxs,” listing St. Paul Park, Newport, Cottage Grove and cities along Interstate 494 with the added reminder to “learn the area for possible getaways.”
The sting operation followed an uptick in reports of mail theft in the southeast corner of Roseville. On Thursday, Sept. 6 at 2:15 p.m., plainclothes officers watched as a maroon Toyota Camry pulled up to the mailbox of a home on the 400 block of North McCarrons Blvd. A woman reached out of the vehicle, opened the mailbox and removed a decoy package that officers had left in the mailbox. Officers stopped the car a short distance away and the three occupants were arrested.
Officers searched the car and found a cup of chemicals being used to remove ink from a check stolen from another home. Additional items used to “wash” checks were found in the car, including acetone, Clorox wipes and various colored pens. Mail theft suspects often remove ink from stolen checks in order to alter the payee and dollar amounts.
“They were actively in those cars washing those checks, so removing the ink and then re-passing those checks, writing their own names and writing out different amounts and then cashing those,” said Lieutenant Erika Scheider with Roseville Police.
All three suspects admitted to being involved in the mail thefts, as well as cashing altered checks. The three suspects were identified as a 32-year-old man, a 31-year-old woman and a 50-year-old woman from St. Paul. The three suspects have already been linked to several other metro agency cases and Roseville detectives are investigating to determine what additional mail and package thefts the suspects may be responsible for in their city.
So far, more than 20 victims have been identified. Detectives are working with the United States Postal Inspector and contacting victims to advise them on the recovery of their stolen mail.
Detectives believe the suspects may have targeted other Roseville neighborhoods in the past few weeks, so Roseville police are asking residents with surveillance systems to review their video. One victim has already reported seeing the suspect’s vehicle stopped in front of their mailbox earlier in the week but did not initially realize that their mail had been stolen.
“This mail came throughout the metro, so there’s a lot of follow up that still has to be done,” Lt. Scheider said.
The case will be forwarded to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office for identity theft and mail theft charges.
MAIL THEFT PREVENTION
Tips from the United States Postal Inspection Service
Use the letter slots at your post office to mail letters, or give them to a letter carrier.
Pick up your mail promptly after delivery. Don’t leave it in your mailbox overnight.
Don’t send cash in the mail.
Ask your bank for “secure” checks that can’t be altered.
Tell your post office when you will be out of town, so they can hold your mail until you return.
Switch to paperless billing and statements when possible.
Enroll in the United States Postal Service’s Informed Delivery, a free notification service that lets consumers preview images of their mail scheduled for delivery, as well as manage packages that are expected to arrive.