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Reporting Mail Theft

If you live in Oakland's Montclair area here's a handy guide on what to do if you see a theft in process, or feel you are a victim of mail theft:

The MSIC wants to know about each and every incidence of mail theft that occurs in our neighborhood. Follow the Reporting Procedures above, and then, because follow-through by the USPS and Oakland Police has been spotty due to limited resources, report the details on our Report Mail Theft Form. This will help us ensure that mail theft and identity theft crimes receive appropriate recognition along with other crime in Oakland.

The MSIC does not share any personal information without your permission. We may use data supplied to help the USPS and the OPD track trends and patterns of thefts.

Here's some common questions (and answers) regarding reporting of mail theft:

How would I know if I’d had mail stolen?

  • You might see all the mailbox doors wide open. For some thieves, this is their “calling card.” Report this immediately as a suspected theft.
  • You may discover mail you were expecting never arrived, and after confirming with the sender it was mailed, you suspect theft. While this may turn out to be misdirected rather than stolen mail, report this as a suspected theft.
  • You go to pick up your mail well past the delivery schedule, and your box is empty. You check again early in the morning…still empty. It’s not a holiday. You talk to your neighbors, and their boxes too were empty. Report this immediately as a suspected theft.

Is every complaint to the USPS followed up by the Postal Inspectors?
No. There are not enough Postal Inspectors to follow each and every complaint. However, the USPS enters every complaint into a database, and active investigations could be triggered by any part of the information you provide.

The inspectors are looking for information patterns used to catch the major criminals, or to find gangs of mail and identity thieves. They have been quite successful in the past in stopping the majority of mail theft and identity theft that has been reported in our area.

After reporting a theft to the USPS, is there any way to get feedback about the immediate pursuit or the eventual outcome?
Not at this time, but you can watch newspapers and communications from our District 4 office, OPD and the MSIC for general feedback.

How does the Oakland Police Department (OPD) respond to 911 reports of mail theft?
They will respond to a 911 call of a mail theft in progress. Provide as much information as you can: name of the suspect, license plate of any vehicle involved, address of crime , etc, If you have personally watched the suspect steal mail, they will take a report and possibly pursue the case. If you have less than the above, they will forward the case to the USPS. This includes ongoing fraud or ongoing identity theft.

Is every complaint to the OPD followed up?
No, but every complaint is entered into the database, and active pursuit of a case could be triggered by the dollar amount at stake, indication of a trend, connection with another case, or evidence that a ring is at work.

Are all OPD cases turned over to the USPS?
They should be, but they are not always, and therefore OPD numbers are not always in agreement with USPS.

What role is the MSIC playing in making reporting a theft easier and more effective?
We have been:

  • Working with OPD and USPS to Improve measurement, tracking and analysis of cases
  • Working to resolve gaps in process between OPD and USPS
  • Assisting in developing cases, under supervision of OPD/USPS

What kind of data does the USPS provide on reported cases of mail theft?
The USPS provides some data on reported cases of mail theft, but they are, in our opinion, not representative of the actual amount of mail theft going on in our area.

Reporting Mail Theft