HCSO officials warn of rising mail theft

Residents provide advice, tips to neighbors to prevent further thievery

HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) — Porch pirates are back to plundering, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.

The department recently said via press release that “several mail thefts” are being experienced throughout the community and that “random mail thefts” still occur even though the holidays have come and gone.

They say it happens “especially in large subdivisions.”

Authorities are advising the community to be alert and attentive of their mail in this early new year.

St. Elmo resident Patrick Hanus recently celebrated his birthday, only to find his gift from home stolen.

The robber didn’t even need to be on his front step — just on his street.

“I got a letter from my mother, which was a real treat,” Hanus said. “Unfortunately, when I got it out of the mailbox, I noticed the seal was broken. Now there’s some scoundrel out there who has 25 dollars’ worth of Dunkin for free.”

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office says it’s “being proactive” in hunting down porch pirates.

Authorities say they recently arrested two individuals in December who had stolen mail in both Ooltewah and Loudon County.

A drive of just over an hour separates the two communities.

“I think we rely on the mail to be secure,” Hanus said. “But ultimately, mailboxes and boxes on our doorstep are pretty vulnerable at the end of the day.”

Cheri Lisle manages local homeowners’ associations and utilizes a Ring doorbell on her front door back home.

She also coordinates mail pickups with family who can hold onto packages for her while on business.

Hanus agrees with her precautions and says he coordinates with neighbors to do the same.

“Unfortunately, you can’t control if somebody’s going to steal something from you,” Lisle said. “But take precautions and if you know that you have a package coming in that day, have somebody look for it or be there.”

“If you plan on going out of town, even for an extended amount of time, [have] someone check your mailbox weekly if not daily because people will also use that as an indicator of ‘oh, someone’s not home,'” Hanus said. “If there are four or five packages on your doorstep, not only is your mail now vulnerable, but your whole home. They can tell that somebody isn’t there.”

In that press release, the Sheriff’s Department also advises neighbors to never leave mail or packages out overnight.

They also say to “pick up your mail” as soon as possible and never send cash in the mail, as well.

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