South Pasadena Police Department officials report that mail theft continues to rise throughout San Gabriel Valley, including a spike in South Pasadena.
Richard Lee, crime prevention officer with the SPPD, said thieves specifically look steal checks “so they can alter and cash them,” he said.
Lee met with a group of neighbors last week at a home in the 1300 block of Milan Avenue after reports of a recent burglary at a nearby home and an attempted break-in of another residence on the street.
On March 8, between 7 and 9 p.m., police say a suspect smashed a rear glass door in the 1600 block of Milan to gain entrance before leaving with cash. A neighbor said a second home in the area was reportedly targeted, but burglars did not gain entry into the residence.
Before talking about how residents can protect their properties, Lee provided information about general crime in the city, including scams, the department’s neighborhood watch program and mail theft.
Lee said thieves often look for any personal information for identity theft purposes like opening credit cards and cell phone accounts.
An unlocked mailbox makes an easy target for suspects, according to the officer, especially if the mailbox is located at the curb.
However, many victims have dropped off their mail into postal collection boxes, only to later discover they have become victims. Lee explained thieves will often go “fishing” at collection boxes. The thief will use a piece of string with a tape on one end, and lower the sticky end into the collection box.
“The thief will pull up on the string to get mail,” said Lee. “Should someone walk by, the thief will let go of the string and pretend to have just mailed a letter. Other times, thieves have applied a sticky sub- stance on the lid of the mailbox.”
Here are some of Lee’s safety tips to remember:
- Consider using a PO Box, or install a lockable mailbox.
- Don’t leave outgoing mail in your mailbox.
- Notify the post office of any
damaged, or vandalized col-
- Always make sure your mail has dropped into the collection box before leaving.
In recent months, Lee said residential burglaries are occur during the evening hours, usually between 6-10 p.m.
He stressed the importance of leaving lights on timers dur- ing nighttime hours and having lights at all sides of the house one of the best defenses against criminal breaking into a residence.
Over a week span, three other similar incidents in South Pasadena were reported:
- March 8 – 2:43 p.m. to 3:05 p.m., 800 block of Prospect (attempt). Suspect(s) attempt to pry open door securing laundry room. Loss: None.
- March 8 – 7:48 p.m., 1800 block of Alpha. Suspect pries rear sliding door open to gain entry. Suspect ransacks bedroom and activates interior motion alarm. Suspect leaves before officers arrive. Suspect Description: Male, wearing a hoodie and long pants. Loss: Unknown.
- March 7 – 9 p.m. to 3-8-17, 6:30 a.m., 1300 block of Huntington. Suspect(s) cuts padlock off storage locker and takes camping gear.
- March 12 – 4 p.m. to 3-13-17, 5:00 p.m., 1200 block of Marengo. Suspect(s) enters through an unlocked rear door. Loss: Unknown.
One of the best deterrents, said Lee, are alarm company signs placed in the front yard. “They should be clearly illuminated at night,” he said, while stressing the importance of keeping all doors and windows locked.
A city report contributed to this story.