‘Tis the Season for Mail Theft in Santa Clarita and recently, deputies with the Santa Clarita Sheriff Station pulled over the driver of a stolen vehicle in Canyon Country to find that, among other illegal things, the vehicle contained several trash bags full of stolen mail, ID cards, mailbox locks, and mailbox keys. The two suspects, one female (23) and one male (37), both from Bakersfield, were arrested and charged with several felonies.
Due to the increase in valuables, currency, checks, and other merchandise being shipped across the US this time of year, cases of mail theft tend to rise with it. Covered under California Penal Code 530.5(e) PC as well as 18 United States Code 1708, mail theft is described as:
- Stealing or taking any contents from a mailbox, receptacle, or other authorized depository for mail
- Use fraud or deception to obtain or attempt to obtain mail from any of these sources
- Remove the contents of any stolen mail
- Destroy or hide stolen mail, or
- Buy, receive, or unlawfully possess any stolen mail, knowing that it was stolen.
Interestingly, mail theft is unlike other California theft crimes where the dollar value of the items that were stolen determine the severity of the crime. Instead, mail theft is handled similarly to the crime of identity theft. It’s a misdemeanor under California law and is punishable by summary probation, up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Mail theft is also a federal crime, and the punishments include fines and/or no more than 5 years in prison.