PAUOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - After security footage captured an alleged mail thief in Pauoa, neighbors are on edge and want the suspect caught.
On July 2, home surveillance video captured a man fiddling with a mailbox on Lusitana Street near Pauoa Road. He walked away with the newspaper. Later that week, he was caught snooping around again.
This time he looked to be holding an armful of mail.
People we talked to had no idea they were being targeted until a neighbor had a box of checks stolen. That prompted Henry Pang to check his security camera.
"I had an inclination there may have been theft. I wasn't receiving publications of a regular basis. It wasn't important so I just ignored it," said Pang.
But on Wednesday, he filed a police report - one of several he's made over the past couple months.
Despite having a locked mailbox the alleged thief continues to lurk around his home. Most of the time he's carrying what looks like mail. Pang believes it belongs to his neighbors.
"I do have concerns. You hear of check fraud and things like that. Washing out the name and putting their own name in," said Pang.
In May a woman who lives close by got a phone call that left her feeling unsettled. She asked not to be identified.
"The bank called me and said someone was trying to cash a check. I said no I did not issue a check to that person," said the woman.
Later that same day she got a second phone call. But this time from a different branch. That's when she realized someone had gotten their hands on her new checks.
"Those are the checks that I ordered. I ordered through the mail," said the woman.
Honolulu Postal Inspectors say they are consistently following up on mail theft complaints across the state. The agency said mail in Hawaii is secure but called these recent incidents concerning. It's offering a reward for tips leading to a conviction.
A spokesperson said stealing mail has become appealing to many drug addicts. A bag of mail could be worth up to $50 on the street and is sometimes traded for small amounts of meth or heroin.
Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of mail theft, or may have witnesses individuals stealing mail, should call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at (877) 876-2455. Reports can also be filed online here by clicking on the link for the Postal Inspectors. Mail theft victims should also file a police report.
There are several actions customers can take to help minimize the chances they become victims of mail theft:
1. Never send cash or coins in the mail.
2. Retrieve mail as soon as possible after delivery.
3. Have important packages delivered to work, if possible.
4. Use a vacation hold if you will be away for any length of time between 3 – 30 days.
5. Advise senders of important mailings to use USPS Signature Services.
6. Use letter slots at the Post Office to mail letters or hand them to your mail carrier.
7. Sign up for real-time tracking at USPS.com.
8. Use "Hold for Pick-up" for Priority Mail Express mailings.
9. Report non-receipt of valuable mail as soon as possible by calling banks, credit card issues, and the Postal Inspectors.
10. Report any suspicious activity to the police and to the Postal Inspectors. Suspicious activity may include someone following the letter carrier, attempting to break into a Postal vehicle, or tampering with mail.
11. Consider purchasing a locking mailbox.
12. Consider purchasing insurance on valuable items.