Date: June 13, 2001 "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 as Tax Refund Checks are Delivered to Polk County

Tax refund checks, some in excess of $500, will soon be delivered throughout Polk County and the Sheriff's Office is encouraging residents to be aware of potential thefts from residential mail boxes. To prevent becoming a victim of mailbox theft, residents should use a secure or locking mail box such as a Post Office Box for incoming mail.

Along with stealing incoming mail, 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 533-0344 to report any suspicious vehicles slowly "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. Residents can contact Detective Dottie Downs during normal office hours at 297-1100 to report known mail box thefts.

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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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