Chouteau Woman Arrested For Stealing Mail In Tulsa

Thursday, October 4th 2012, 10:34 am
By: Craig Day

Tulsa Police detectives are looking for victims who believe they had their mail stolen in early September.

Police arrested 28-year-old Jennifer Steffen of Chouteau Wednesday following an investigation into theft of mail from a residential area around the 6000 block of South Utica on September 3rd.

At the time of her arrest, police said Steffen had mail from 15 different residences.

Detectives have been able to contact at least 12 victims.

Donna Chadwell was one of the victims identified.

"People can come and take things right out from under you. I just couldn't believe it," Chadwell said.

Tulsa financial crimes detective Darin Shipley said mail theft is becoming more common.

"It only takes seconds for people to drive by, walk by and pull them out of a mailbox," Shipley said.

That's what investigators say Steffen was doing.

Some Home video someone, shot through window blinds, shows Steffen going from house to house, mailbox to mailbox, stealing mail.

They say she was caught doing it in two such videos.

"The citizens being aware, first of all, but then recording what they saw, was absolutely amazing for this case," Shipley said.

Shipley said it is unusual to catch someone in the act of stealing mail; the damage is usually discovered later.

"They'll take checks and change the name on them, sometimes they'll make their own check using the information on the checks that they stole, but the easy one is credit cards," Shipley said.

There's no indication that credit cards were stolen, yet, in this case, but investigators suspect that would have likely happened.

Financial crimes unit detectives started contacting victims they knew about, like Donna Chadwell.

"We know our neighbors, we all watch out for each other, and for somebody to be so bold as to come up on your front porch and take something from you that isn't theirs, it's just crazy," Chadwell said.

Police are asking any Tulsa residents living in the area of south Peoria and south Lewis between 60th and 63rd Streets, who think they're also victims of mail theft, to contact Tulsa Police.

They say anything important, like checks or credit card payments, need to be dropped off at the post office, instead of leaving them in your mailbox for the letter carrier to pick up.

Steffen is charged with knowingly concealing stolen property.

She was booked into the Tulsa County jail on 12 complaints of being in possession of stolen property.

Steffen is scheduled for a court appearance on October 11.