According to the U.S. Postal Service, mail theft in Galveston has increased over the past few years. This increase has drawn the attention of the Postal Service’s enforcement arm. Responding to questions posed by Senator Ted Cruz, the Postal Service has admitted its inspectors are engaging in various attempts to combat the uptick in mail theft.
Mail theft and related check fraud ends up costing the public millions of dollars. Most commonly, someone steals a check that is in the mail and either forges a signature or alters it. They then cash the check and keep the illegally obtained proceeds.
According to the Postal Service, there have been about 240 complaints of mail theft in Galveston during the past two years. Forty-eight complaints involved stolen checks specifically. Some checks were valued at over $34,000. In total, more than a million has been stolen from local residents. The increase in stolen checks is similar to spikes the Postal Service has seen in other cities.
This theft has drawn the attention of federal and local authorities. As explained in the Galveston News, Postal Inspectors are working closely with the Galveston Police and other authorities to uncover who is committing these crimes. Both federal and state laws would apply, and defendants could face serious penalties.
Possible Mail Theft Crimes
Those who commit mail theft can face various charges, depending on the facts. For example, you might be charged under any of the following criminal statutes:
1. Texas Penal Code Section 31.20. This is the mail theft statute. It is a crime to take mail from someone’s premises or mailbox without their consent. At a minimum, this is a Class A misdemeanor for stealing mail from fewer than 10 mailboxes. If you take from 10 but fewer than 30, it is a state jail felony, and it is a third-degree felony to take mail from 30 or more mailboxes.
The charges increase if the mail you took contained identifying information, like a person’s Social Security Number. Taking mail from fewer than 10 mailboxes would be a state jail felony if there is identifying information on it. You could even face first-degree felony charges for stealing from 50 or more boxes.
2. Texas Penal Code Section 32.24. This is a check stealing statute. Stealing an unsigned check with the intent to use it or transfer it is a Class A misdemeanor.
3. Texas Penal Code Section 32.21. If you end up signing or altering a check, you could face charges of forgery. The charges will depend on the value of the check. A check valued at less than $100 would be a Class C misdemeanor. But if you steal $2,500 or more, you can face felony charges.
4. You could also face various federal charges. Consult an attorney to learn more.
Experienced Galveston Criminal Defense
The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates has provided top shelf legal representation for many people accused of theft. We can discuss your case in a free consultation. Because the penalties are so steep, we recommend reaching out without delay.