More mail thefts in Beavercreek, Dayton, Kettering; van eludes police in chase

Police report indicates mail drop boxes were not forced open, and all boxes use the same generic key

An unknown number of checks were stolen this weekend at post office drop boxes in Beavercreek, Dayton and Kettering, in what police said is the latest in a rash of mail crimes.

Postal inspectors and police are investigating the thefts at post offices with outdoor boxes in those cities — and possibly others — that occurred between noon Friday and 2 a.m. Saturday, Kettering Police Department Detective Vince Mason said.

Beavercreek police saw at least one person flee the Dayton-Xenia Road post office in a minivan at about 1:45 a.m. Saturday, records show. An officer was unable to catch the vehicle after a short chase in which the driver ran a red light after leaving “at a high rate of speed” on Research Park Boulevard, a police report states.

All four drop boxes were later found open with two nearby “mail totes” empty except for one envelope, according to the police report.

ExploreEARLIER: Kettering’s pick as next schools superintendent plans to get early jump on job

“It is unknown how much mail was stolen from the mailboxes since the last collection time was” 5 p.m. Friday, the Beavercreek police report states.

“There was no damage or pry marks on the drop boxes,” according to the report, and an alert was later issued with area law enforcement for what the officer believed to be a maroon Chrysler Town & Country.

A postal employee later told police “that all U.S. Post Office mailboxes utilize the same generic key for locks,” the police report states.

“The investigation is still very early on,” Kettering’s Mason said. “We do have a lead on a couple of possible suspects. I don’t know how good of a lead it is. But we’re going to follow it until it runs out.”

The thieves used a key to gain access to Kettering’s Forrer Boulevard post office drop boxes and apparently later disposed of any mail that did not contain checks, he said.

ExplorePOPULAR: Kettering Business Park land that housed 1,900 Synchrony jobs sold

“Through some outside sources we were able to track where they threw away a bag of torn up envelopes. And anything that wasn’t a check, it looks like they didn’t keep,” Mason said.

Drop boxes outside of post offices are not surveilled by cameras, authorities have said.

The postal inspection service “is working jointly with our local law enforcement partners to follow up investigative leads pertaining to the events that occurred overnight” Friday and Saturday, postal inspector Spokeswoman Nicole Lutz said in an email.

“I cannot discuss specifics due to maintaining the integrity of the investigation,” she added.

The Dayton Daily News also reached out Dayton police but did not hear back.

ExplorePUBLIC SAFETY: Fairborn traffic work near Wright State, business corridor targets safety

An estimated 1,000 envelopes — including graduation cards and wedding invitations — found in a Dumpster were being examined Monday in Kettering, Mason said.

Mason said police are using return addresses on the discarded envelopes to help find possible victims. Anyone who suspects they may have had mail stolen from the Forrer site can call him at 937-296-2583.

The USPS is encouraging the public to contact its inspection service in this investigation by using its 24/7 Hotline, 1-877-876-2455, or through its website, www.uspis.gov, Lutz said.

A direct email is set up for the public to contact its Cincinnati office at CFOMT@uspis.gov, she added.

Kettering police had not received any complaints as of Monday morning “because I don’t think anybody knows their mail has been stolen yet,” Mason said.

ExplorePOPULAR: Riverside road plan near Wright-Patterson, Air Force museum hits snag

Earlier this year, thefts were reported from outdoor post office drop boxes in Kettering, Oakwood and Beavercreek, authorities said.

At least $38,000 was stolen in 40 reported cases — only one in Beavercreek — in those instances, officials said.

Similar crimes reported in Kettering in 2021 have resulted in charges against four defendants, including a Dayton man.

Thousands are arrested each year in connection with mail thefts, according to the USPS website. In fiscal year 2018, postal inspectors arrested nearly 2,500 suspects for stealing mail and packages, the website states.

Postal officials declined Monday to provide information on the conviction rates in those cases.

ExploreCOURTS: Fairborn Municipal Court overloaded, hopes to add second judge

Indicted in connection with 2021 Kettering thefts were Michael E. George, of Cincinnati; Craig A. Ross, of Dayton; and Brittany L. Kinder and Daniel L. Yates, both of Newport, Ky., according to Montgomery County Common Pleas Court records.

They are suspected of stealing and passing about 30 checks totaling around $100,000 last year, Mason has said.

George, 64, and Ross, 29, are charged with forgery and theft, while Kinder, 30, and Yates, 26, face grand theft and forgery charges, court records show.

The attorney for Ross has filed for intervention in lieu of a conviction and his next court date is May 23, documents state. The three others have been given conditional releases, but no future court dates are listed in records.


USPS TIPS

•Drop off mail at slots inside post office buildings, many of which have 24-hour lobby access. Customers can find lobby hours online at https://tools.usps.com/find-location.

•Do not mail cash.

•Contact the post office inspection service with any information related to this investigation or report mail theft activity to its 24/7 hotline, 1-877-876-2455, or at its website, www.uspis.gov. It also has a direct email set up for its Cincinnati office at CFOMT@uspis.gov.

About the Author