Holiday season is mail-theft season

courtesy of New Brighton Department of Public Safety • The New Brighton Police Department circulated a photo Nov. 16 of a suspected package thief as caught on a victim’s home surveillance system. A couple hours later the department posted an updated photo on Facebook — “arrested” had been photoshopped over the suspected thief’s face.

courtesy of Roseville Police Department • ‘Tis the season for package thefts. Roseville police circulated this image of a suspected inline skate-wearing thief and his vehicle on the department’s social media pages Nov. 21. This time of year, it’s best to have packages delivered to a place were you, or someone you know, can receive them.

Trusty neighborhood mail or delivery professionals may have a nefarious figure following them on their route this time of year — package thieves.

Package thieves follow delivery vehicles and wait for packages to be dropped off. When the delivery person clears out, the package crook picks up the package, according to Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Randy Gustafson. 


Doorstop delinquency

The Shoreview theft of a 26-year-old woman’s package containing an Apple Watch, valued at $300, occurred Nov. 10. She received an email confirmation that her package had arrived. But when she went to the door, she was met by a man picking up her package. 

He told the victim that he was the delivery person and that he’d accidentally delivered the package to the wrong door. Then he ran to his car. The woman got a good look at the car, including the plates, and called the police. 

New Brighton police, just days later, received reports of a mini-mail theft spree in the city on Nov. 15. New Brighton Public Safety Director Tony Paetznick said mail thefts generally occur in clusters. 

A 29-year-old New Brighton woman called about packages missing from her home in the 1300 block of Old Highway 8. Her roommate, a 29-year-old man, called later the same day to report packages as stolen. Also the same day, a 38-year-old called about packages missing in the 600 block of Searles Street.

The Searles Street stop did include a break in the investigation — the victim provided police with surveillance video of the thief. New Brighton police put a notice on the department’s Facebook page with pictures of the suspect, a woman, from the video, warning residents about package theft. 

The post was published at 8:08 a.m. Nov. 16. Shortly after 2 p.m. that afternoon, the same suspect photograph was posted again, this time with the word “arrested” in bold red lettering, photoshopped across the suspect’s face. 

“Within 10 minutes of posting the suspect’s photo we received numerous replies identifying the suspect in the package thefts,” read the newer post. New Brighton police write that the suspect, a 34-year-old Blaine woman, was located and arrested. 

Paetznick said tips helped the police to “narrow [the] focus” of the investigation. Key information came in via Facebook, including the suspect’s name and address. 

“Goes to show the power of social media,” said Paetznick. 

Sharing an image or description of a suspect with thousands of people instead of just those on the police force can make a big difference, he said. Civilian cooperation significantly helps law enforcement. Sometimes it makes the difference in getting to the bottom of a case. 

“We can’t do this alone,” said Paetznick.


Avoiding package theft

Paetznick’s tips for insuring packages safe passage is to ask an available neighbor to pick up the mail when it’s delivered or to have packages delivered to work or at designated drop-off places. He added that locked delivery boxes work as well.

What’s important is to be aware. “The criminals have kept pace,” said Paetznick. 

Other precautions include requiring signatures for delivery and sending any outgoing mail to the post office instead of using the red flag on mailboxes, said Gustafson. Using the red flag, he cautioned, “Is pretty much telling people at this time of year, ‘Hey, we have stuff to steal here.’”

Law enforcement measures to curb mail theft have been successful Gustafson added. Police shadow delivery vehicles in “plain-clothed” squad cars and put tracking devices in packages. 

Police efforts are helped when people report thefts, said Paetznick, because those reports might include small details that prove to be important information, like the description of a car. Or maybe the victim has video surveillance at their home that captured images of the suspect, that police can share. 


– Solomon Gustavo can be reached at or 651-748-7815. 

Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Comment Here