'We may have to get a private mailbox at the post office:' Help ID suspects part of rampant mail theft problem

KING COUNTY -- An already rampant crime of opportunity that's delivering even more cases during the coronavirus pandemic is mail theft.

Law enforcement says it’s doing all it can to battle it.

Photos from the U.S. Postal Inspectors Service shows mail theft suspects caught red-handed this week in Burien. The arrests come from Postal Inspectors, Burien Police and King County Sheriff's deputies partnering-up to be proactive about preventing mail theft.

And, in Bellevue, where police say mail thefts are up 141% compared to last year, detectives need your help to bust another batch of mailbox crooks.

Surveillance cameras setup by neighbors to monitor their mailboxes show thieves desperate for mail and brazen about getting it.

Video shows one thief wearing a vest and striped shirt pull-up in a car and go down the line of mailboxes during the middle of the night. Apparently he didn't like the mail, because detectives say he just took off without taking any.

Another thief is seen pulling-up and getting out of a small SUV. She’s wearing a hat, thick coat and furry boots. She’s not selective and just grabs all the mail and takes off.

Bellevue Police say some mail thieves work in pairs and not just at night, as another video clip shows a Chevy pickup truck pull-up in daylight, while a thief in a Seahawks jersey grabs all the mail from mailboxes and then runs back into the truck.

"We would like to catch them really bad, because if you think about it, the things that come to our homes, which is our sanctuary, that feels like a real invasion. It`s very frustrating to people when their mail is stolen, especially when they`ve tried to do everything right, like they do get a locking mailbox and the criminals use a pry bar," said Bellevue Police Capt. Joe Nault.

Capt. Nault says lately, with everyone staying home, there are less cases of home burglaries and shoplifting, so it's now gone to mail theft.

One mail theft victim says his neighborhood has been hit twice in nine months. He says all of the boxes are locked, but that hasn't stopped thieves before. “You do feel violated,” said Lee White. “You expect people to just be good people and not do things like that, but I guess it`s just the ‘sign of the times.’ This is what people are becoming. I think we may have to get a private mailbox at the post office."

If you recognize any of the suspects Bellevue Police are trying to identify, or know anything at all that can help detectives learn their names, Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound will pay you a cash reward of up to a $1,000 cash reward.

Use the P3 Tips app on your cell phone that you can download for free to submit the information to Crime Stoppers, or call the hot line at 1-800-222-TIPS(8477). It is anonymous.