Police and the U.S. Postal Service are looking into thefts of mail in several Iowa cities. Urbandale police sergeant Dave Disney says reports from Clive, West Des Moines and Waukee are similar to an Ames case. The reports aren’t coming in just as mail theft, people are finding there’s a forged document and tracing that back to something stolen from a mailbox. Disney explains this means someone’s not just stealing checks or money — they’re stealing identities, and access to bank accounts. As an example, he says you might pay a water bill and put it in your house mailbox with the red flag up. “The bad guys,” Disney says, call this red-flagging because they take that bill, dissolve the ink off it and write in their own alias and cash the check. Most people don’t realize it’s happened until some time down the road. Until the bill isn’t paid you get overdue notices — and by then it could be weeks later and your credit’s all messed up. At a multi-district intelligence meeting the cops began comparing notes, not only among Des Moines suburbs, but a case farther out of town. Sergeant Disney says the culprit stole a bank statement from the mail, and used its account number to take money from the checking account of a 14-year-old girl. They have photos of a female suspect taking money from the 14-year-old girl’s account and in the case of a forged check in Ames, they have a picture that looks like the same woman — both cases traced to mail theft. They’re asking for help identifying the mail-stealing female, and Sergeant Disney suggests putting mail in a drop box or Post Office or using new on-line bill-paying options rather than putting bills out in your mailbox for the carrier, or perhaps a thief, to collect.
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