YUKON, Okla. (KFOR) – Mail thieves are on the prowl in Oklahoma. United States Postal Service investigators report collection boxes outside of post offices are being targeted around the state. A Yukon woman had multiple checks stolen out of one last month.
Shirley McDaniel was about to have her water, gas and electricity all turned off because she had no idea her mailed checks never reached their destinations. They were stolen from the collection box at the Yukon post office at 900 South Garth Brooks Blvd. on June 30.
When she saw another Yukon women share on Facebook that her mail had been stolen from that collection box, McDaniel reached out to the four utilities she had mailed checks to. Three had not received her checks. The post office confirmed to her that the collection box was broken into.
“My bills hadn’t been paid for a week,” McDaniel explained. “I didn’t know it. They weren’t paid. I was a little bit panicked that somebody could have your account numbers and stuff.”
United States Postal Inspector for the Fort Worth Division Paul Ecker is now investigating the case in Yukon. His office oversees mail crimes in Oklahoma.
“We hate to hear about any single incident of a mail theft,” Ecker said. “We can empathize with folks. They provide us their mail. They trust us to get it there safe and secure.”
Thieves are using a method called “fishing.”
“They snorkel down one of these collection boxes [with something] that normally has some kind of adhesive on it and they just try to grab some mail and run with it,” Ecker said.
The cost of mail theft is hefty.
“One incident, just one piece of mail, can get you five years in federal prison and substantial fines,” he continued.
Ecker recommends that people don’t put mail in the collection boxes after the final collection time labeled on the box. After the designated time, he suggests you take the mail inside to an attendant. He also said to avoid mailing cash through the boxes.
McDaniel has since notified her bank to set up a fraud alert. She also contacted LifeLock to report the stolen checks, so the thieves can’t steal her identity.
She’s sharing her newly learned wisdom with everyone she knows.
“I told my dad and he said, ‘that’s where I always put my mail. I always drop it in there,” she said of a conversation before giving him advice. “Just be aware that we’ve got some thieves out there.”
Ecker said they do have their eyes on the collection box in Yukon. He can’t reveal much about the investigation, but they do have some suspects.