Stearns County Sheriff investigates apparent rash of mail thefts

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Their checks haven't arrived and their bills aren't getting paid – because of an apparent mail theft in central Minnesota.

A number of rural Stearns County residents reported finding their mailboxes open and empty this week, with important letters (both incoming and outgoing) having seemingly vanished, KARE 11 reports.

The station says the calls came from Holdingford, Avon Township and Brockway Township, and that the Sheriff's Office is now on the case.

According to WCCO, a number of those residents told investigators the missing postage included outgoing bills, while others believe checks they were expecting were swiped by a thief or thieves.

If you happen to know anything about the thefts – which the St. Cloud Times says took place overnight Monday and Tuesday – the Stearns County Sheriff would like to hear from you.

Avoiding mail theft

"The vast majority of the mail (the U.S. Postal Service) delivers arrives intact," the Postal Inspection Service says, "but thieves persist in their efforts to steal it."

The service thus recommends a number of steps citizens can take to protect their mail, including handing an outgoing piece directly to a letter carrier as opposed to leaving it unattended in one's mailbox.

Officials also point out that rural mailboxes are often vulnerable to vandalism because they are often isolated and out of view of the homeowner.

According to CriminalDefenseLawyer, mail fraud is "one of the most frequently prosecuted" federal crimes.

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