Sheriff: Mail thieves target Poudre Canyon area, stealing checks meant for Canyon Utilities

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. - The Larimer County Sheriff's Office is investigating several mail thefts, including stolen checks and credit cards, in the Poudre Canyon area.

Sheriff's spokesman John Schulz said the thieves are targeting mail boxes in the Bellvue area, including parts of Rist Canyon and along the Poudre Canyon Highway.

Several victims have reported checks and credit cards stolen from their incoming mail, which were later used to make fraudulent purchases in locations throughout Colorado, Schulz said.  

Sheriff's investigators are working with the U.S. Postal Inspector on the investigation.

One business that has experienced mail theft is Canyon Utilities, a trash and recycling business located in the Poudre Canyon. Residents who have recently sent payments to Canyon Utilities are asked to check that those payments were received, Schulz said.

"If you're not paying attention, and along these highways, nobody's going to pay attention to you.  I'm not going to question if you live in that house or if that's  your mailbox," said Jennifer Shipp who lives in nearby Laporte.  "Credit cards, our bank information comes in the mail.  So it's easy for people to get that information,” she said.

So far Larimer County officials tell 7NEWS they’re tracking at least 15 cases, adding this is an on-going problem.    Postal inspectors are urging homeowners to get their mail immediately, instead of checking every few days.

One area resident told 7NEWS she is now using a lock box at the local post office so she doesn’t have to worry about the thieves.

Anyone with information about these mail thefts is asked to call Larimer County Sheriff's Investigator Ben Hess at 970-498-5170 or Crime Stoppers at 970-221-6868.

The sheriff's office recommends residents limit the amount of personal and financial data placed into unsecure mailboxes in the rural areas.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service provides these tips to protect your mail from thieves:

-- Never send cash or coins in the mail. Use checks or money orders.

-- Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery, especially if you're expecting checks, credit cards, or other negotiable items. If you won't be home when the items are expected, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail.

-- Have your local post office hold your mail while you're on vacation, or absent from your home for a long period of time.

-- If you don't receive a check or other valuable mail you're expecting, contact the issuing agency immediately.

-- Always deposit your mail in a mail slot at your local post office, or hand it to your letter carrier.

-- Consider starting a neighborhood watch program. By exchanging work and vacation schedules with trusted friends and neighbors, you can watch each other's mailboxes (as well as homes). If you observe a mail thief at work, call the local police immediately, and then call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.