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Mail thieves take advantage of opportunities
A Sooke woman is warning people to be careful with their mail after two cheques she sent out were stolen for attempted fraud.
On Sunday, June 17, Evelyn Petrie, 67, mailed out three envelopes, two containing cheques, at the Canada Post street letter box in front of Peoples Drug Mart. The mail was to be picked up on Monday, June 18 at 4:30 p.m.
But on the Monday around 9 p.m., she received a call from a financial services company in Victoria, stating cheques belonging to her name were altered and were attempted to be cashed.
One was altered from $20 to $1,800, the ink was allegedly “erased” and payee name changed. The numbers on the altered cheques matched those she sent out.
“They had erased the name of the person and the amount and tried to cash it to themselves,” Petrie said.
It is unknown whether the letters were intercepted from the street letter box, in transit or upon delivery.
Due to the short timeframe of the theft, Petrie suspects the envelopes were removed from the street letter box the day they were deposited.
“I thought people in Sooke should be informed in case they mailed things in the same box,” she said. “I really don’t think the mail had been picked up in time to have it go astray in that way.”
Saanich Police Sgt. Dean Jantzen said a 23-year-old Sooke woman was arrested after she attempted to cash the altered cheques at the financial services company around 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 18.
Police are recommending charges of possession of stolen property and fraud. Although police are not investigating when the letters were stolen, Jantzen said rural mail boxes do get attacked from time to time.
John Caines, media representative for Canada Post, said theft from street letter boxes is rare, but not impossible.
“I’m not aware of anybody removing mail from street letter boxes, we do have theft from community mail boxes, where people pry them open but we put anti-pry locks on them,” he said. “The street letter boxes are very difficult. You can’t put your hand in and pull mail out.”
In order to protect themselves, Canada Post advises people to:
• To mail out letters and envelopes the day of mail pick up, and to not leave mail in receptacles over night.
• Pick up mail as soon as possible after its delivered.
• To report suspicious activity around mail boxes to police and Canada Post.