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Mail theft suspects had hundreds of pieces, some from Bothell, Kenmore and Kirkland
Online bill pay and email are taking more and more items out of mailboxes and putting them on the internet. But two suspects arrested in Edmonds Tuesday may have been helping themselves to what is left in Bothell, Kenmore and Kirkland mailboxes.
Edmonds officers made a traffic stop on a male driver and passenger at 1:30 a.m. with no headlights turned on. Upon contact, officers realized the driver had a suspended license and arrested him.
"During the on-scene investigation the officers determined that due to the driver having a suspended license … and that the vehicle was parked illegally, they would impound the car," said Edmonds Police Department spokesman Sgt. Mark Marsh. "While doing an inventory of the car, in front of the driver, the officer immediately discovered numerous articles of mail and other items that had names on it other than the driver and his passenger."
Police seized the car, performed a search and found that the mail had delivery addresses to homes in Bothell, Arlington, Lynnwood, Clyde Hill, Woodinville, Kenmore, Shoreline, Kirkland, Seattle and Edmonds.
Officers recovered 407 pieces of mail belonging to between 134-159 victims.
"The investigation is continuing into this incident," said Marsh. "We are going to contact those residents in Edmonds whose mail we recovered. The other victims will be contacted by the postal inspector as the rest of the mail was turned over to them."
The suspects are in the process of being charged with multiple counts of mail theft and second-degree possession of stolen property.
"Each charge is a class C felony, punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and or a fine of $5,000," said Marsh.
They could also face felony charges by the United States Postal Service.
Marsh did not know if the suspects had prior arrests or convictions for mail theft.
U.S. Postal Inspection Service inspectors arrested more than 5,500 suspects for crimes involving the mail or against the Postal Service in 2011. About half of the arrests involved mail theft and more than 750 involved mail-related fraud, according to the USPS website.
"Residents should use a locked mailbox or post office box," said Marsh. "Also residents should be aware of people walking down the street, peeking into mailboxes or driving slowly through residential areas. Call 911 and report any suspicious activity. If you feel it is wrong, it probably is. Relying on the old standard unsecured mailbox is not a safe method in today’s world."
To report possible mail theft contact the United States Postal Inspection Service at www.postalinspectors.uspis.gov