CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) -- Mail and packages have become a hot commodity for thieves and Clovis police say the crimes have become even more common this year.
Police issued a warning saying these criminals are not just looking for merchandise, but also personal information. They say the stolen items help the thieves make money to support their drug habits.
Video from a Clovis home's Ring camera shows two suspects stealing mail on Wednesday. A resident turned it over to police and it quickly sparked a larger investigation.
"The suspects were actually using a master key that was from the U.S. postal service. Somehow, the suspects got a hold of that. Sometimes, they are using brute force with screwdrivers and other handmade tools," explained Ty Wood, Public Information Officer with the Clovis Police Department.
Detectives recognized one of the people in the video as a known mail thief - and soon served search warrants in Fresno and Biola. They recovered two guns, property that had been purchased fraudulently and countless pieces of stolen mail from the Clovis, Fresno, and Kerman areas. They also arrested five people.
"Two of them were the repeat offenders that we arrested less than a month ago. Four of those five subjects are currently out of custody," said Wood.
Wood says this is part of a frustrating trend that has only gotten worse this year.
"The first two months in 2021, we took 35 reports of mail theft. So far this year in 2022, we're almost done with February and we've taken 132 reports of mail theft," added Wood.
Authorities say these crimes often lead to others that can have long-lasting impacts on the victims.
"What we typically see is mail theft is a precursor to other crimes such as identity theft, fraud, forgery and a lot of those times, unfortunately, are using that money to pay for their drug habits," said Wood.
Clovis Police say the best thing you can do to protect yourself is check your mailbox every day, not letting your personal mail pile up.
To help battle these growing mail thefts, police urge people to say something if you see something, again pointing out surveillance video played a key role in making the recent arrests.
Surveillance video leads to multiple arrests as trend in mail theft increases
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