North Vancouver RCMP are warning the community about an increase in mail thefts since the beginning of the year.
Sgt. Peter DrVries of North Van RCMP said the police are used to seeing some increases around tax time, but the seasonal increase isn’t trailing off as expected.
“It’s possible that with greater numbers of support funds being mailed to Canadians, coupled with the extension in time to file taxes, criminals are continuing to try their luck,” he said.
So far this year, 34 mail thefts have been reported, of which 21 targeted apartment mailbox cabinets. As many as 11 packages have been stolen from front porches of residences.
DrVries said mail packages itself may not have a lot of monetary value. It is the identity theft that is more worrisome.
“A thief might luck out and get a check or a couple of credit cards, but unless they’re into couponing they’re not generally doing it for the cash value. More often they’re aiming for identity theft. That can be an enormous nightmare for people,” he said.
DrVries said criminals can use the information to commit a variety of crimes in someone else’s name.
“They can open new bank accounts and transfer funds out of your legitimate accounts, rack up charges on your credit cards or apply for new ones, apply for loans, credit lines or government benefits, and they can even apply for a passport in your name.”
North Vancouver RCMP and Canada Post recommend the following to reduce the likelihood of your mail and/or your identity being stolen:
Collect your mail frequently, at least daily
When you change your address, make sure to notify your mailers such as all relevant financial institutions
If your mail fails to arrive, contact senders to ensure they have your correct mailing address
Don’t just recycle; shred documents that contain personal financial information, such as statements and credit card offers
Don’t let anyone follow you into your apartment building or parkade
Report any suspicious activity to police
When shopping online, avoid having packages delivered to your front door if you aren’t home during the day. Instead, have them shipped to your work or to a friend who is home and who can accept the delivery on your behalf
DeVries said the detachment is directed staff and resources towards this. “We have the resources, we have the intel, and we have the will. We know we’ll catch them,” he said.