Protect yourself from holiday mail theft with these important tips

The U.S. Postal Service expects a jump in the number of packages and cards being sent this holiday season, and with it, a greater chance of your mail getting stolen.

The holiday season is an opportune time for thieves looking to steal boxes on doorsteps and holiday cards in mailboxes. With billions of pieces of mail being sent this month nationwide, that opportunity for crime could grow.

“Each year during the holiday season, we’re very concerned about the issue of parcel thefts after the customer’s package has been delivered to their doorstep or to their mailbox,” said U.S. postal inspector Brian Shaughnessy.

The USPS expects more than 15 billion cards, letters and packages will be sent nationwide. That includes 600 million packages, marking a 10-percent increase from last year.

On Oahu, there was a recent increase in mail theft in Hauula and Laie.

“If I can track it, it’s not as concerning,” said postal customer Michelle Harris, adding that she would never send anything without tracking.

“Normally, when you mail the flat rate thing, you get insurance automatically,” said postal customer Wendy Ishibashi. “(That makes me feel) as secure as one can be, I guess.”

There are several steps you can take to protect your mail. The first tip the U.S. Postal Service offers is do not send cash or coins in the mail.

Officials also said to get a lock for your mailbox at any home improvement store. “Mail thieves in Hawaii typically target mailboxes that don’t have a locking device,” said Schaughnessy.

Remove your mail as soon as it’s delivered. Have packages shipped to your work or to a neighbor if you won’t be home. If you go on a trip, put a vacation hold on your mail.

You can also track your packages. The USPS now offers real-time delivery notifications. Customers who sign up for alerts will receive notification within a few minutes.

Mail theft is a federal crime. Anyone caught faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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