Two men and one woman, all hailing from Fresno, are facing multiple criminal charges of mail and identity theft after numerous pieces of stolen mail were found in their possession during a traffic stop in Turlock on Wednesday.
The traffic stop was initiated because the suspects were in a vehicle matching a description of one that had just fled the scene of a late-night shoplifting, the Turlock Police Department reported.
Shortly before 3 a.m. on Wednesday, the police department received a call from an employee at the Walgreens at 1591 Geer Road, who was suspicious of two individuals in the store. The employee stated the two people were carrying around numerous items in their arms and the employee believed they were about to run out of the store.
The employee’s suspicions proved to be spot on, as the two suspects fled the store with the purloined loot. The suspects got into a white Honda Accord with another occupant and fled the area.
An officer spotted the vehicle and initiated a traffic stop. Two of the people in the car matched the descriptions provided by the store employee and were later identified as the suspected shoplifters, according to the police department.
During a search of the vehicle, officers located the stolen property, which was returned to the store, and numerous pieces of mail in the car. The mail was stolen from five or six different addresses in Turlock, the police department reported.
Moises Beltran, 30, Jessica Baeza, 46, and Johnson Dallas, 24, all of Fresno, were arrested and booked on theft and identity theft related charges.
“Thanks to the vigilant employee and the swift actions of our officers, these out-of-towners paid a visit to the Stanislaus County Public Safety Center and several Turlock residents’ identities were kept safe,” the police department wrote on their Facebook page.
Incidents like this of mail theft as well as attacks on mail carriers, have been on a rising trend nationally and historically, increase over the holiday season. Earlier this year, the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service launched the Project Safe Delivery campaign to crack down on postal crimes.
The campaign has included increased enforcement efforts in targeted metropolitan areas; the installation of 10,000 high-security blue collection boxes nationwide; and a crackdown on fraudulent change of address submissions. The Inspection Service also has increased the monetary rewards for the arrests and convictions of mail thieves and those attacking postal workers.
“We have effectively focused our efforts with USPS on hardening both physical and digital targets to combat threats to postal employees and secure the mail. We continue to turn up the pressure and put potential perpetrators on notice; If you attack Postal employees, steal the mail, or commit other postal crimes, Postal Inspectors will bring you to justice,” said Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale. “We ask that the public assist us with our mission. Our rewards for information have increased substantially, highlighting the importance of the safety and security of our employees and the mail. If you see something, say something, and help us bring to justice those that cause harm to postal employees, steal mail, or commit other postal crimes.”
Customers can take several steps to protect their mail and their letter carriers, including:
Don’t let incoming or outgoing mail sit in your mailbox. You can significantly reduce the chance of being victimized by simply removing your mail from your mailbox every day.
Deposit outgoing mail through a number of secure manners including inside your local Post Office or at your place of business or by handing it to a letter carrier.
Sign up for Informed Delivery and get daily digest emails that preview your mail and packages scheduled to arrive soon.
Become involved and engaged in your neighborhood via neighborhood watches and local social media groups to spread awareness and share information.
Keep an eye out for your letter carrier. If you see something that looks suspicious, or you see someone following your carrier, call 911.
Customers are encouraged to report stolen mail as soon as possible by submitting an online complaint to the Postal Inspection Service at www.uspis.gov/report or calling 877-876-2455. Additionally, individuals are encouraged to report allegations of Postal Service employee misconduct, including attempts to corrupt a Postal Service employee, to the USPS OIG at 1-888-877-7644 or www.uspsoig.gov.