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With the holidays upon us, mailbox thefts once again on rise on Whidbey Island

West Beach resident Sarah Felger went to get her mail after work Monday, expecting Christmas cards and maybe some junk mail.

Instead, she discovered her mailboxes and those of her neighbors were open and empty. A mail thief had struck.

“I was very upset. I felt almost violated,” she said. “But it’s not going to affect my Christmas spirit.

“It’s all about giving.”

Felger said the deputy who responded told her the Grinch with sticky fingers hit other areas as well on Monday.

But contrary to rumors about a ring of package-stealing villains on the island, law enforcement officials say the number of thefts of mail and packages on North Whidbey and Oak Harbor isn’t any worse this year, as compared to past years.

The particularly irksome brand of theft always increases in the holiday season, Oak Harbor Police Chief Ed Green said, but there hasn’t been an out-of-the-ordinary uptick in reports.

“Maybe it’s because of the new neighborhood watch groups, maybe it’s watchful neighbors or maybe people are more cognizant of what’s going on around them,” he said.

Undersheriff Kelly Mauck with the Island County Sheriff’s Office said the department has only received a handful of reports about mail or package theft since the beginning of the year. He said there could be more if people aren’t reporting them, which he urges people to do.

He pointed out that some people may not realize they’ve been hit since it’s hard to tell what mail isn’t there.

While the crime trend may not be out of the ordinary, police are cautioning residents to take precautions to help ensure that holiday joy isn’t dampened by a Christmastime jerk.

“Have your packages delivered to a neighbor, a friend or your workplace, if you can,” Green said.

In addition, he urges folks to check their mail and bank accounts on a regular basis since thieves tend to target credit-card-related mail.

Officer Jennifer Yzag-uirre, community service officer, said the local postmaster suggested neighborhoods worried about mail theft purchase a quality lock box. She pointed to the website mailboxes.com.

Yzaguirre said officers caught a prolific mail thief in November. Rose McKay, 29, is suspected of stealing from 40 or more victims in the city limits; Officer Lisa Powers is still tracking down the victims, she said.

The officer arrested McKay for driving while license suspended and discovered she was holding credit cards and checks with various names on them.

McKay was arrested on suspicion of eight counts of ID theft, one count of possession of stolen mail, two counts of possession of stolen property and two counts of possession of a legend drug without prescription, according to Yzaguirre.

 

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