Roseville slows 3 alleged mail thieves, charges to follow

Three alleged mail thieves were caught in the act and arrested during a Sept. 6 plainclothes detail in southeast Roseville, an area that’s seen a summer-long uptick in many types of theft.

“These can be hard cases to solve just because of how fast these suspects can steal outgoing mail,” said Lt. Erika Scheider.

In this case though, according to a Sept. 11 Roseville Police Department press release, around 2:15 p.m. on that Thursday afternoon, officers watched a maroon Toyota Camry pull up to a mailbox they’d prepped in order to catch thieves in the 400 block of North McCarrons Boulevard.

The mailbox had its red flag raised to indicate outgoing mail, and police had placed a dummy package in it, the release said. Officers watched a woman reach out of the Toyota and remove the package before closing the mailbox and lowering the red flag.

“The theft occurred so quickly, because with that red flag they know which box to target,” said Scheider.

Police stopped the Toyota a short distance from the mailbox and arrested its three occupants — a 32-year-old man, 31-year-old woman and a 50-year-old woman, all from St. Paul.

Police said they found stolen mail, stolen checks from around the metro and supplies used to “wash” checks — acetone, Clorox wipes and various colored pens — as well as a cup full of chemicals in the car’s center console being used to remove the ink from a check so it could be rewritten.

The release said officers even found a journal used for apparent notes on how to commit crimes. An entry titled “Places to Hit (MBxs)” included locations such as St. Paul Park, Newport and Cottage Grove, as well as along Interstate 494. The note also included the reminder, “but learn the area for possible getaway.”

Scheider called the cup and journal unique, saying the fact that the three people were processing one of their allegedly stolen checks while in the process of trying to steal more underscores the speed at which such thieves work.

“I think it really shows how quick these cases can progress,” she said. “They have your mail and in a couple seconds they can be rewriting the check to themselves.”

 

Ongoing investigation

According to the release, while being interviewed by police each of the people who were arrested allegedly admitted to stealing mail.

Police booked the three at the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center and they were later released. Scheider said it could take a couple of weeks for them to be charged. Roseville investigators are continuing to try to nail down the scope of the thefts, where stolen checks may have already been cashed and if any of the three were involved with other cases being investigated by other police agencies.

Scheider said that depending on how large scale and organized the thefts end up being, the case could be prosecuted by the state or federal government, though it’s likely the county attorney will eventually charge the alleged thieves.

There have been a number of plainclothes details in southeast Roseville this summer, Scheider said, and the Sept. 6 operation happened to be particularly fruitful in an area that has also seen a recent increase in burglaries and thefts from vehicles.

“We knew this neighborhood had been hit a couple times and officers picked this spot with easy access to Rice Street,” she said, noting that sometimes police will use GPS units placed inside packages to track thieves without having eyes on the scene.

 

‘Make it a little harder’

Stolen and then washed checks can take a while to be noticed by their rightful owners, Scheider said. 

“They don’t realize their mail is stolen in these outgoing mail theft cases until sometimes months later, when a business contacts them and says they never received their checks,” she said.

Outgoing checks, in bills or birthday cards, should either be handed directly to mail carriers or placed in postboxes, said Scheider. Also, the red flag on mailboxes can be a literal red flag, alerting a mail carrier to outgoing post but also alerting thieves to an easy target.

The Roseville Police Department also recommends taking your mail inside promptly after it’s delivered — don’t leave it out in the mailbox overnight. Don’t send cash through the mail, and if you’re frequently sending checks, ask your bank for the “secure” type, which cannot be altered. Tell your post office when you’ll be out of town, and if possible, switch to paperless billing and pay bills online.

“Some days we feel like broken records,” said Scheider of reminding residents of small ways to prevent crimes. “Just make it a little bit harder to do.”

Roseville detectives believe the three people arrested Sept. 6 may have targeted other Roseville neighborhoods in the past weeks. If you have a surveillance system, police ask you to review recent footage that could show the trio’s vehicle stopping at your mailbox. If you suspect your mail was stolen or tampered with call the Roseville Police Department at 651-792-7008.

 

– Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813

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