More than 500 in Fresno County targeted in widespread mail theft

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A man accused of being a mailbox thief is now in custody.

Investigators say the suspect operated for months throughout Fresno and Clovis and they found thousands of pieces of mail in his house.

Mailboxes on the street were his favorite targets. The thief would reach in and take the mail, or simply take the whole mailbox.

Police are sorting through it all right now and have recovered cash, checks, credit cards, prescription drugs, but the real damage may be the information in the mail, which could enable identity theft.

This home surveillance video shows it all. The thief creeping along in his car, robbing mailboxes as he goes down the street.

Police linked the car to a known burglary suspect, Justin Deger. They arrested him and were stunned by what they found in his home.

"We recovered approximately 2000 pieces of mail with approximately 500 victims," said Brian Pierce of Fresno Police.

There were letters, bills, checks, credit cards, bank statements, car titles.

Only a few victims - those whose entire mailboxes were taken - knew they'd been hit.

The bigger threat is the mail taken provided more than enough names, dates, addresses and account numbers for a thief to figure out how to steal the victims' identities.

Police credit the public for helping them solve this case.

The mail police recovered was dated from November, until just this week. The addresses are concentrated in northwest Fresno, but stolen mail was found from throughout Fresno and Clovis. Police say they are looking for a lot more.

The disturbing thing about this crime is that it can happen to anyone with an accessible mailbox.

Mail tampering is a federal crime and police are working with federal agents on this case. Justin Deger is being held in the Fresno County jail on more than $200,000 bond.

Police are currently sorting the mail by zip code and then will take it to the post office for further sorting. Police say they will soon begin contacting those whose mail has been recovered. They do not know if any of the stolen mail was used for identity theft but they encourage everyone to keep a close watch on bank statements and credit reports.

And secure your mailbox.
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