Date: February 21, 2000 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Media Contact: Sterling Ivey, 863 534-6377 or 819-0221 pager
Prevent Mailbox Thefts by Using Post Office to Mail Checks, Bills

In response to ongoing mailbox thefts across the county, the Polk County Sheriff's Office is encouraging residents to mail outgoing parcels--especially checks, currency and bill payments--at the Post Office whenever possible.

Unfortunately, mailboxes located on the side of the road increasingly are becoming a target of theft and vandalism. Suspects have been known to cruise a selected neighborhood in search of those mailboxes with the flag up signifying outgoing mail.

Suspects then sort through the outgoing mail, zeroing in on those envelopes that may contain checks, bill payments or credit card applications. Checks are stolen, altered and then cashed - and the victim often is not aware of the theft until notified that the check was never received by the intended company/person.

Another target is credit card applications. Thieves often will intercept a "pre-approved" application/card being sent to a customer. Before the victim is even aware that he/she has received a credit card, a suspect may have used the card numerous times for purchases.

The Sheriff's Office is encouraging residents to use the Post Office to mail all parcels that contain items that would be attractive to thieves!!! Residents are urged to immediately call the Sheriff's Office at 533-0444 to report any suspicious vehicles lowly cruising their neighborhood and stopping at mail boxes. Residents also are encouraged to use locking mailboxes that can be purchased at a number of local stores. For more information or to report suspicious activity, contact Detective Dottie Downs at 534-6291.

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Distribution: Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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