KETTERING — Five people were taken into custody Thursday night following a theft at U.S. Post Office mail drop box in Kettering.
The theft, which came one day after police warned people not to use the blue mail boxes outside post offices, was reported at an outdoor mail drop box at the post office at 1740 E. Stroop Road around 9:07 p.m., according to Kettering police.
“As a result of the investigation by patrol and detectives, five persons were taken into custody and charged with felony receiving stolen property,” said Tyler Johnson, Kettering police patrolman and public information officer.
It’s not clear how much mail was stolen, but hundreds of items were recovered, he added.
Johnson confirmed there have been four drop box break-ins since Thanksgiving, including the one reported Thursday night. Three of the thefts were reported at the East Stroop Road post office and one was at the Forrer Boulevard location.
“The people committing these offenses are stealing everything in the box. They will steal anything of value (checks, gift cards and cash) and the rest is just thrown in the trash or otherwise disposed of,” Johnson said. “Christmas cards will certainly not be spared and anything inside will be taken and the card will be trashed.”
However, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said the blue drop boxes are still one of the most secure ways to transmit information.
“If customers are using USPS blue collection boxes we encourage them to place their outgoing mail in the blue boxes before the last pickup time of the day,” Nicole Lutz, spokeswoman for the Cincinnati Field Office, said.
Anyone who thinks they’ve been the victim of mail theft should contact the Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.
A Dayton Daily News investigation found that the rash of local mail thefts coincides with a reported 17-fold nationwide increase in checks stolen from the U.S. mail being posted for sale online. Officials representing postal service police say they are hamstrung in arresting perpetrators.
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown has urged the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) Board of Governors to take action on patrolling mail carriers and protecting mail delivery.
In a letter sent last month, Brown initially requested a response from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Brown’s office has yet to receive one, he said.
“It has now been more than 30 days since I sent my letter and I have yet to receive a response or any outreach from USPS,” Brown said. “It is imperative that this matter be addressed as promptly as possible.”
Brown has argued that the Postal Service’s decision to halt the practice of having Postal Police Officers (PPO) — members of the nation’s first and oldest federal law enforcement agency — patrol along mail carrier routes and around USPS collection boxes was “misguided.”
In past months, items have been stolen from at least seven different post office mailboxes in Beavercreek, Dayton, Kettering and the Centerville/Washington Twp. area.
“This decision is making mail carriers and the communities they serve less safe, and must be reversed,” the senator wrote last month.
David Maimon, director of the Evidence-Based Cyber Security Research Group at Georgia State University, leads a team that tracks criminal behavior online. He said that starting in August 2021, they saw a big spike in checks being posted online.
There has been a large increase in stolen checks being posted for sale on the dark web and on encrypted text apps, he said.
“And since then things have exploded even more dramatically. Instead of seeing an average of 114 checks a week, now we are seeing 2,000 checks a week across the country,” he said.
Staff writer Daniel Susco contributed to this report.