The problem of mail theft is a growing problem and often comes with the added problem of potential identity theft. Mail theft is a federal crime and it is the number one white collar crime in the United States nowadays according to postal inspectors.

Furthermore, mail theft leads to all kinds of other problems like stolen money, disruption within correspondence and even ID theft.

The problem has become so enormous that the federal government has been forced to tighten up the laws on mail theft in attempts to discourage the practice. Legal guidelines that used to rule only the theft of postal mail have not been refined to include crimes that occur as an aftermath of mail theft.

Anyone who steals postal mail that’s not his or her own from postal trucks, collection bins and any various other place the postal service utilizes for the delivery of mail is responsible for mail theft.

While most people think of mail theft in terms of the theft of items that may include things that could supply information for identify theft, there are times when people just take private correspondence, perhaps for the purpose of finding credit card applications or other varieties of personal information.

The law will not limit the charge only to mail and packages that are closed; additionally it is a crime to steal a postal card or mail package that has not yet been delivered to the actual hands of an individual to whom it is addressed.

Anybody who is criminally charged and convicted of postal mail theft is susceptible to five years in prison, a fine or both prison time and the fine.

In the event there are additional criminal offenses involved including home invasion, breaking and entering, or mail fraud there may be additional fees involved.

The severity of the penalty depends on the seriousness of the crime, however, there is no mistake about it: mail theft falls under federal authority, and those convicted will face federal charges and not just state or local ones.

While there are unquestionably rigid penalties for mail theft, it is much easier to prevent it.

Items like not leaving mail in the mailbox overnight, putting mail on hold when you are leaving town, not sending or receiving money in the mail, and not leaving bills in the mailbox for your carrier to pick up can help you go a long way toward preventing mail theft and the ensuing identity theft.

However, you should remain consistent with your attempts and not give thieves any kind of reason to think you will “forget” to do something critical.

Who’s Responsible for Mail Theft and What Can you do?

An ABC News story about mail theft issues nationwide and what is being done.