COLORADO SPRINGS — While some of us have plans to take a summer vacation, crooks aren't taking any days off, trolling for items left in your mailbox and looking for every opportunity to steal your identity and ultimately ruin your credit. These crimes are being caught on camera almost every day across the country and even right here in southern Colorado. Investigators want you to think about how often you're checking your mailbox because if you aren't, someone else might be.
"Check your mail often, as soon as you can. As soon as you get home get that mail out of there," said Colorado Springs Police Fraud Unit Sergeant Joe Matiatos.
Fraud investigators say if you don't pick up your mail, or stop it while you are on vacation, crooks will gladly take what's inside your mailbox.
"They'll take everything. They're not going to be picky because it's a lot faster to just grab everything and go look at it and sort through it later," said Sgt. Matiatos.
Ring surveillance cameras show us cases in Colorado Springs where people are simply driving up to your curbside mailboxes to check inside.
Others are going to extreme measures- like a man dressed as a mail carrier. Denver area homeowners say he isn't their mail man and he wasn't delivering any mail, just checking mailboxes for what's inside.
Colorado Springs Police Department Fraud Unit Sergeant Joe Matiatos says there's plenty of ways someone can victimize you after stealing your mail.
"Anything in the mail that's got your name, address, it might have your social security number depending on what that piece of mail is, your date of birth. Anything they can use to take over your identity or to maybe apply for a credit card in your name," said Sgt. Matiatos.
And if you think mailing checks for rent or to pay bills in those blue post office boxes is full proof, think again. Crooks are using glue traps to fish for checks. The ink cam then be washed off with a chemical solution allowing the crooks to fill in the blanks. It's such an easy and fast crime according to investigators who say they've actually recovered stolen mail in peoples cars during routine traffic stops.
"We'll pull a car over for a traffic stop, they may have warrants and then that gives us the opportunity to search their entire car and we'll usually find bags of mail from all over the city," said Sgt. Matiatos.
Investigators say our best chance for protecting ourselves from this onslaught of mail thieves who will strike at all hours day and night--is to monitor our credit-- and not leave our mail in the mailbox any longer than we have to.
Another option is to add a lock to your mailbox, anything that can slow the crooks down and make them move on to somewhere else.
Here is the link to the USPS Informed Delivery service: https://informeddelivery.usps.com/