LETTER: Burien resident upset about increase in mail theft

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]


I’m unsure if this is the right place to contact, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to send this info…

We live on SW 146th Street and 8th Ave SW, right by the fire station. In the last month we have had credit cards stolen from our mailbox and used at the Fred Meyer on 1s Ave. We thought this was an isolated crime. In the last week we have had our mail stolen, tampered with or found in neighboring mailboxes nearly every single day. We have made police reports, contacted USPS, and our personal mail man on our route noticed it had gotten bad enough to come knock on our door this week.

I’m unsure if our entire neighborhood is experiencing this, but according to the mail man, he believes so. I’m hoping the blog can post something about this to warn neighbors in the crime section. It would be one thing if it happened once, but its almost daily and I’m unsure we are targeted or if its neighborhood-wide.

Thanks for your time!

– Lindsay Jarrell

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35 Responses to “LETTER: Burien resident upset about increase in mail theft”
  1. Question Authority says:

    There’s actually something sad and strange about the mail theft law. Not quite sure but I believe you have to be caught with more than 10 pieces for it to go into effect.

  2. Clean it up! says:

    Lindsay thank you for letting us know about this. There are some fairly inexpensive security cameras that might be helpful. I have also taped a ‘Smile For The Camera’ note on the inside of the mailbox flap. Also, do you know that you can go online at the US Postal website at https://www.usps.com/ and sign-up for daily delivery notices of what is being delivered to you mail box. Look under the Quick Tools tab for Informed Delivery. You can also ask for your mail to be held under the Track and Manage tab and have it delivered on the days when you are home, like on Saturdays. There is no limit to this service. I have been using it for years!

  3. Captain obvious says:

    There are some simple things you can do to slow down these activities.

    1. Try to get your mail as soon as it arrives ( this can be difficult for many reasons)

    2. You can make sure you can see your mail box clearly from your house. (No bushes or large vehicles blocking your view).

    3. Install a security camera that faces your mail box and post signs stating of a security camera in use. On or around your mail box.

    4. If possible stay up late for night or two watching for thefts then call the police or shoot at the thieves with a high power air gun.

    5. Try installing a locking mail box but becareful most locks are similar and crimanls have ways of getting those keys. Or keys to fit.

    6. Get a post office box and have your mail delivered there might be a headache but it stops the problem.

  4. Thank you for letting us know. I live very close to the fire station and will keep my eyes out, although I suspect the thieves operate under the darkness of night. I am sorry this happened to you.

    • Scott says:

      First off, I would certainly not follow Captain obvious’ number 4 suggestion. A high powered air gun could be considered a deadly weapon and a deadly weapon is not a legal response to mail theft.

      With that said, I would also suggest that any out going mail be taken a post office or USPS drop box. If you put the flag up, it shows that there is outgoing mail – an open invitation.

      I had this happen to me and mailman was kind enough to knock on the door and let me know the flag was up and there was no outgoing mail in the box. A couple of days later I got a call regarding an altered check. Fortunately, I had canceled the check.

      Last week, the mailbox doors were open on two days when I Got to work.


      • Captain obvious says:

        A shot in the dairy air with a non lead pellet would not be considered life threatening. Now a head shot with any pellet could be life threatening. Even a airsoft round to the eye or bb

        • Richard G says:

          Jimmy, I suggest you ask any officer of the law and they will tell you a gun is a gun, no matter the propellant. You continue to give idiotic advice.

          • Captain obvious says:

            See Richard you and this Steve are kinda taking this the wrong way. As in shooting at them and shooting them are the same.

            Now with a air gun you can get a mail thieves attention similar to scary off wildlife from your yard. A quick shot in front or by there feet can get them running and think twice about coming back.

            But then again yes if you want to shoot them with a non lead pellet out of a high power gun has far less f.p.e. or hitting power than any bullet. Most high power air guns at.177cal 4.5 grain pellet at 1400 fps (feet per second) would get about 26 to 28 for (foot ponds of energy) compared to a 22 Cal bullet at 1400 to 1600 fps that could go from105 to 204fpe depending on grain and style of bullet.

            But if want to shoot to kill that’s on you I am just trying to say scare them off not kill no one.

            • Richard G says:

              Again Jimmy, the police make no distinction. You could point a toy at someone and you could be charged. You know when you make such totally uninformed statements it really takes away any credibility you might have. Maybe time for another name change.

              • capt obvious says:

                Why don’t you ask any officer about the self defense and stand your ground laws of Washington state.

            • Captain obvious says:

              I forgot to mention a bullet is typically hot and can cut through skin a like a hot knife in butter. A pellet is typically cold and loses a lot of power hitting fabric like denim jeans or a wallet in a back pocket. If you take a shot at the person and not near them.

              Then there also the fact do think a mail thieve is going to run to the police. What would they say to the cop. Hey officer I was out trying to steal some mail and I got a whole in my dairy air. That might take some explaining and maybe some giggles.

              Then the officer saying something like well here let me put you in the back of my patrol car where your safe. Oh wait it’s​ protocol to search and hand cuff you before putting you back there. Oh what do we have here stolen mail drug paraphernalia shaved keys screw driver gloves. Ok get in the car station transporting previous caller in. Oh yeah here is a sponge Bob bandaid for that “shot” in your dairy air.

              • Diane says:

                Capt. Obvious,
                “dairy air”!!! Another term for cow fart? Very funny!

                • capt obvious says:

                  dairy air
                  a. Either of the two rounded prominences on the human torso that are posterior to the hips and formed by the gluteal muscles and underlying structures.

                  Close but not a fart it’s another term for Gluteus maximus

  5. Frosty says:

    I observe opened, discarded mail all throughout Burien and SeaTac when going for walks. And its not just in Burien. One of the most growing crimes in America.. Ripping open entire box clusters is not a problem for them either. OM gosh they hit the Burien Post office box on the side of the building on a regular basis. Losers who face little follow up or consequences. Riding bikes with backpacks at 3 am through the neighborhoods or just walking the streets with a back pack late at night. Males or Females. They all do it…Don’t comment on it being a Federal crime either.. Remember on this same site when they blew up peoples mail boxes on the 4th of July all the posts about it being a Federal crime? No one got any follow up on that. When that mail hits your box its yours… Use a hardened mail box. I mean a tough one. Don’t drop mail at the external Post office box till right at pick up time. They go fishing and I mean fishing in those boxes too!! If you don’t get up early and walk you wont see these freaky people out but a lot of you have seen them. That’s how they feed themselves, THEFT…Don’t leave your mail in your box overnight or leave outgoing mail in a box with the flag up!! Might as well leave your car keys in the box too but that’s another story…

    • MichaelJ says:

      Good comment, and accurate. If you cannot schedule a day you know it will not sit around for more than that day, as another poster mentioned, you need to check for your mail every day before dark.
      My dog is on duty too 24hrs a day. He knows when anyone approaches the mailbox near the door. It’s not just the sound, he senses it, and he has been rarely wrong.
      But not creating the opportunity in the first place is the best defense.

    • Ken says:

      Frosty is right. Not only do the thieves go “fishing” in the drop boxes, they are using lures. A few weeks ago, I dropped off some mail at the Post Office late one weekend. I dropped it in, then on a whim, reached back in to make sure the box wasn’t full. I easily pulled out my mail. It took four tries to fling it in to where I couldn’t just reach in and pull it back out.

      A few days later, I dropped off mail early on a weekday. Again, I reached in afterwards. This time, I pulled out someone else’s mail! I put it back in and returned later in the day when the P.O. was open. I reported these incidents to the Postmaster. His reply was, “Did they put glue in the box again?” I said, “What?” He told me that the thieves have been dribbling glue inside the drop boxes to catch mail. He went out to clean it up.

      Two lessons here:
      1. Always make sure your mail drops out of reach when you use a drop box.
      2. If mail is not dropping in all the way, tell the postal employees.

  6. Clean it up! says:

    About when mail is being stolen, it is often happening in the afternoon either by a person on foot or in a vehicle. This type of theft can sometimes be associated with other theft, like lawn mowers, and yard items. They tend to get brazen when they think there is a pattern of no one being at home. Pull vehicles into driveways, knocking at doors, etc.

    Encouraging neighbors to take walks around the neighborhood might help. Post some flyers to get the word out about what is happening. And get handy with taking quick pictures with your cell phone.

  7. Lindsay says:

    Thanks for the ideas everyone! We purchased a locked mail box and put up signs on the surrounding areas that their are now cameras. I actually did keep an eye last night once it was dark, we’ve had a car break in, and a neighbors windows recently broken too. I think a huge part is that the city hasn’t put a street light on this corner, or any of the other 3 corners, and we live on the corner. It’s very dark on our entire lot when the sun goes down, we did put motion lights on our garage.

    Since our mail courier noticed this becoming an issue in our neighborhood we wanted to share what we knew!

    • Clean it up! says:

      Lindsay, Make some noise with Burien about the need for lighting on your corner. Call them up and ask who would be bestperson to direct your letters to. Site any case number, etc. and send a copy to the Police Dept. and local paper. Get some signatures from your neighbors and re-send your letter at least 3 times. Tell them you want a response in writing, not a phone call. Then post the response here and with the paper. It might even be worth having a lawyer advocate for you. Good luck!

      • Captain obvious says:

        Try contacting Seattle City light they are ones that own the street lights. I noticed a few years ago when they replaced the older ones they skipped every few houses and now there really dark areas especially in the winter months.

  8. Marjorie McKinney says:

    We have had this problem for years. We went to all locked boxes. The sad part is that there is no interest in catching these perpetrators. They work at their will. We get no support from law enforcement on this. Never use the outgoing mail service. I’ve had mail stolen when I put my flag up. And I’m sure they do it in broad daylight.

  9. Susan Emerson says:

    We had the same problem on 104th St SW and 7th Ave SW. We got locking mailboxes from USPS. No tampering since.

  10. We Live on 8th Ave So. & approx. 118th–We see Peoples Mail all opened & thrown in the Ditches for the last 5 yrs. So sad–I have notified the Post Office & the People whose Address I found on the Mail. One AM–There was a Car Parked in our Driveway–A Cop saw it & the Gal sitting inside & said Her Boyfriend was in our house–The Cop asked us who all was in the house to which we answered just me & my Husband–The Girl was lying—The Cop then told us there was stolen Mail all over the back seat of Her Car but that He could NOT do anything because His shift was over–Can You ——-ing Believe???? There went our trust in the Burien P.D.

  11. Hi, Lindsay. I’m sorry that your mail is being stolen often from you and your neighbors. I live on 146th and 11th Ave SW. A few years ago the same thing happened on this street. We had new locked mail boxes put in by the post office. It solved the problem. But last 4th of July some thieves put a bomb in one of them and it blew up the entire locked mail box! It was just one with 16 locked boxes. They even took the mail.It was finally replaced. I heard they were doing it in other neighborhoods in the area! Geez, these thieves just aren’t going to stop. They are just terrible. Why not spend the energy doing something good and helpful to our neighbors! Good luck and sending prayers.

  12. I mean the thieves should spend their energy doing something good and helpful instead of stealing.

  13. John Justbe says:

    We have the same issue over here on 128th all up and down 8th Ave.

    I’ve had my mail stolen…replaced the mailbox with a locking box.

    Then had the mailbox pried open and stolen again.

    Ive dealt with credit fraud twice and identity theft.

    My neighbors didn’t bother putting up a new mailbox after they got hit a few times. They use a PO Box, we fixed the box and are pressing on.

    I will say this, the first time we were hit we did get a letter from the Snohomish County Sherrifs Office, apparently they found a stack of our mail in an apartment they raided. So this was an incident of targeted and planned theft from a ring of “professionals”.

  14. Captain obvious says:

    For everyone that is complaining that police and USPS are not doing anything about this.
    You must first understand the time it takes to figure out when these activities are happening. Then there is who is doing this. Then there catching them in the act. Then there’s ​proving your case to the district attorney.

    It can take time your best bet to contact your neighborhood watch captain if you have one. Also if you someone is near your mail box try taking a picture of person. I did this before the guy ran off. Sent the picture to my neighborhood watch. The police made arrest a few days later. They found and found out the house the supect lived at was full of stolen mail in white center. The people where hitting boxes during day and night. One would even do it while the school buses are passing by to avoid cameras. School bus driver thinks it just someone new to the neighborhood or a house sitter. Since then we haven’t much of a problem with mail theft.

  15. oman says:

    Have similar problems on 4th Ave S. Leave early, many mailboxes are open on the street, and it’s not just the mail, they’re looking at the cars, houses and for anything snatchable.

    Have a clear view, have cameras. It’s dark, cameras can’t pickup enough motion to record.
    Now have a security box, no problems with it yet.

    These criminals sleep during the day and prowl all night, can’t compete against that.

  16. dhseattle says:

    So, does anyone know what it takes to get USPS to install cluster mailboxes? I see them around, but our street just has the individual, curbside mailboxes. Some are locked, others aren’t. I replaced mine after mail went missing and a credit card was used in an unsuccessful attempt to purchase gas in Des Moines.

  17. Scott Sather says:

    Leave a sign in the street that says I SHOOT PROWLERS & THEIVES. SHOOT THE TWEEKERS & JUNKIES

  18. Lee says:

    I live off 120th and 8th street and it happens all day. Mail all over the street. I can not place a camera as the mail boxes are on 8th street not near the house. I contacted the post office , they just laughed and said it is happening all over in Burien . So even with it being a federal crime, they are do nothing. The sheriff / police will not even step in. yes I plan on getting the locking box, but I have to pay more for it. Plus the post office will not fully deliver my mail , except letters. I’m now going to add a sign, smile your on camera to the mail box cluster. The USPS Police and Sheriff need to enforce the law and track these down.

  19. KateB says:

    My husband and I were heading downtown Saturday, June10th to take part in the Relay for Life Ceremony at Town Square about 8pm. It was still light outside and every, single mailbox was open on the west side of 2nd Ave South between 128th and 136th.

  20. Eric Avery says:

    Watch the bus routes. I’ve seen people get off the bus, walk through the neighborhood stealing mail, dumping the trash before picking up the bus again a little further up the bus route.

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