Katy, Texas – KPRC 2 Investigates has warned you repeatedly about Houston’s huge mail theft problem. Business owners in Katy who lost thousands of dollars put up their own money to lead cops right to thieves stealing their mail night after night. But those victims are feeling fed up and helpless.
Checks stolen in the mail, then washed and cashed, are a growing problem in the country. A recent case in Katy is a good example of what businesses and individuals are up against.
Provincial Professional Park on Kingsland Boulevard in Katy is the home base for about 50 businesses that rent office space. Payments that keep their companies in business are delivered by U.S. mail to this cluster of boxes every day.
About 16 months ago they discovered missing checks then checks that were washed and cashed, Costing the businesses tens of thousands of dollars.
“It’s been it’s been on and off for about a year that we’ve had to adjust how when we get our mail and when we put our mail out in order to make sure that the overnight theft doesn’t affect us or our patients,” said Marlene Magness.
When reporting the theft to authorities didn’t help, they installed security cameras and watched night after night. Cameras caught thieves driving up, unlocking the boxes, and emptying the contents.
Thieves were caught on camera on April 19, April 27, May 8, May 30, and July 3rd. Most happened in the early morning hours. Finally, these videos got the attention of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service which set up surveillance with Harris County Precinct 5.
On July 31st when the suspects came back again, cops pounced. The suspects ran but Deputy Constables walked them back to the scene. They even took this group photo and posted it on Facebook “caught with their hands in the mailbox.”
19-year-old Marquice Dale and 18-year-old Jeremiah Gamez were both charged with unlawfully carrying a gun in a motor vehicle and evading arrest.
The Precinct 5 Constable’s office posted on Facebook “The two suspects had several trash bags containing stolen mail in their possession, along with illegal narcotics and a firearm. The stolen mail was turned over to the U.S. Postal inspector for further investigation.”
Then hours later both Dale and Gamez were released on bond. No federal charges related to the mail theft were even filed leaving business owners right back to where they started 16 months ago.
No one from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service responded to our requests about why the suspects were released from jail and have yet to be charged. But data from the federal agency show even though mail theft is on the rise the number of suspects arrested and convicted has dropped every year since 2018. Numbers not encouraging for customers losing money and faith in the U.S. mail system.
“We had a check stolen and therefore my bank account was compromised, so I had to change everything,” said Magness.
With both of the suspects out of jail most of the business owners were afraid to talk on camera. We do know they are both due in court in early October on the evading arrest and gun possession charges. We will let you know what happens.
What to do if you suspect you are a victim of mail theft
If you suspect you have been a victim of mail theft, there is a list of agencies you need to report it to.
- Contact USPS. The USPS says losses are charted by the Postal Inspection Service to identify problem areas and assist Inspectors in tracking down thieves. Report suspected mail losses to Postal Inspectors by calling 877-876-2455 or at www.uspis.gov.
- Let law enforcement know. You should also contact the police department in your city and file a police report and you could also contact the District Attorney’s office.
- Alert financial institutions. Depending on what you think was stolen, you should alert your bank and credit reports about the theft.
Investigator Amy Davis has spent years looking into issues like mail theft. Contact the KPRC 2 Investigates team if you have an issue you need help solving.