Oklahoma's Own In Focus: A Look At Mail Thefts And What You Can Do

One of the first things experts say to do if you're mailing a check is to use a gel pen because that can't be washed if the check gets in the wrong hands. The postal service says it is working to make blue collection boxes more secure. 

Friday, January 19th 2024, 6:39 pm



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A woman is out of jail on bond after prosecutors said she tried to cash stolen checks at least seven different times across Tulsa County. Britney Sands faces charges in two felony cases. 

Her arrest affidavit says in some cases, a bank teller noticed the checks had been tampered with, and when they went to verify it, Sands left the bank and left the checks behind. Investigators say many of the checks were stolen out of letters dropped off in the blue mailboxes outside the post office. 

One of the first things experts say to do if you're mailing a check is to use a gel pen because that can't be washed if the check gets in the wrong hands. The postal service says it is working to make blue collection boxes more secure. 

Even on a bitterly cold day, Tulsans opted to park and walk inside to drop off their mail at the post office near Pine and Yale instead of rolling down their window to drop mail in a collection box. 

"I will not mail my mail at an outside stand. I will not," Tulsa resident Joeann Storie said. 

Storie was sent a check in the mail Friday and said walking inside the post office is the only thing she trusts right now. 

"Back in the summer, I had a man walk up to my mailbox on my house, take my mail and leave. And I wasn't at home. When I got home, I saw it in the camera," she said. 

She says her sister is also a victim of mail theft. 

"The checks were washed and made out to Walmart. And it was supposed to have gone to the city for her water bill," Storie said. 

How common is mail theft in the United States?

Across the country, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service reports mail theft cases have gone down some the last few years, hovering around 1,000 cases a year. 

These statistics come from the US Postal Inspection Service's annual reports

  1. 2022 - 1,124 
  2. 2021 - 1,079 
  3. 2020 - 1,258 
  4. 2019 - 1,278 
  5. 2018 - 1,356 

"Our big focus right now is to try to secure those mailboxes the best we can with Project Safe Delivery," US Postal Inspector Sean Smith said. 

Smith said electronic locks are being rolled out across the country after a problem with mail carriers being robbed for their keys. 

"Think about it as a two-factor authentication that's going to happen with these locks. You can't just have a key to access these boxes anymore," Smith said. 

What can I do to protect my mail?

The US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma recommends avoiding mailing cash if at all possible. For checks, the office suggests going inside the post office instead of using your mailbox at home or the blue boxes at the post office. The US attorney's office says criminals sometimes use mousetraps to steal mail inside those boxes. If you have to use a collection box, mail fraud experts say use one in a high-traffic area and drop off mail as close to the pickup time as possible. 

USPS offers informed delivery, so you can get an email early in the day with what mail is heading your way; then you'll know there could be a problem if you don't receive it.



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