Is Mail Theft a Federal Crime?

May 12, 2023

Mail theft, also known as mail tampering or mail piracy, is a serious crime that is punishable under both state and federal laws. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is responsible for investigating mail theft and works closely with local law enforcement agencies.

Under federal law, mail theft is considered a felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Federal law applies to all mail, including letters, parcels, and postcards, and applies to both individuals and organizations.

There are several different ways that someone can commit mail theft. One common method is known as “mail fishing,” in which a thief uses a hook or other tool to fish letters and packages out of mailboxes. Another method is “mailbox vandalism,” in which a thief damages or destroys a mailbox in order to steal the contents. A third method is “mail diversion,” in which a thief intercepts mail that is intended for someone else and redirects it to a different address.

While mail theft is a serious crime, it is not always easy to detect and prosecute. In many cases, the alleged victim may not even realize that their mail has been stolen until weeks or months later. Additionally, some mail thieves are able to steal mail without leaving any physical evidence.

Despite these challenges, the USPS and law enforcement agencies have several tools at their disposal to combat mail theft. One important tool is surveillance cameras, which can be used to capture footage of mail thieves in the act. Additionally, the USPS has a “Mail Theft Alert” program that allows customers to report suspicious activity and request that their mail be held at the post office until they can pick it up.

Another important tool is the use of “mail covers,” which are used to track the movement of mail and identify suspects. A mail cover is a legal process in which the USPS records the information on the outside of a mail piece, including the sender and recipient’s name and address. This information can be used to identify suspects and track their movements.

In addition to federal law, different states also have their own laws related to mail theft. For example, in California, mail theft is considered grand theft, punishable by up to three years in prison. In New York, mail theft is considered a class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

While mail theft is a serious crime, it is important to note that many cases are solved through the cooperation of the public. By reporting suspicious activity and keeping an eye out for mail thieves, individuals and communities can play an important role in preventing mail theft.

If you are charged with a felony offense, then contact an experienced Orange County federal crimes attorney today.

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