A crime of opportunity: Increased reports of mail thefts targeting stimulus checks

SEATTLE – If you are expecting your stimulus check in the mail, be forewarned as thieves may come and get it before you do.

Some communities in our region are seeing an increase in mail theft that is targeting those checks.

Stimulus checks by mail should be arriving in mailboxes in our region soon. Police are reminding residents because of that, they need to be extra vigilant.

Kirkland Police sent out a tweet on Wednesday saying that they’ve seen a noticeable increase in mail thefts this week. It’s attributed to unemployment or CARES Act checks.

According to postal inspectors, this is something they've noticed before.

"Really anytime you have larger mailings going out, whether it’d be tax season, the holidays, sometimes we’ll see mail thieves taking advantage of those opportunities and going out," said John Wiegand, a postal inspector in Seattle.

Since many people are at home, one simple way to prevent mail theft is to keep an eye on the mail carrier.

"Get that mail in as fast as you can. Don't leave it in your box as long as it has to. If your still have to go to work, have a friend or a trusted neighbor bring it in if they can," said Wiegand. "The longer you leave that out there, the more likely it is to get stolen. Mail theft is a crime of opportunity, so take that opportunity away from those guys."

According to the US Postal Service some other ways to prevent mail theft and scams is to stay away from people who claim they can expedite your check. Also stay away from people who say you need to pay taxes in order to receive stimulus checks. Be aware of fake stimulus checks that are being sent out by scammers. And also be aware of people claiming to be from the Treasury Department or a federal agency. They may be asking for your personal information in order to claim to give you a check.

Call 911 if you notice any suspicious activity. You can also report mail thefts or scams to the US Postal Service Inspector at uspis.gov.