Watch CBS News

Mail theft leads to thousands of dollars lost for Colorado family

Mail theft costs Lakewood family tens of thousands of dollars
Mail theft costs Lakewood family tens of thousands of dollars 03:46

After the sudden loss of her father, Drew Hodgson was left to settle his estate, including selling his Colorado home.

"There are some taxes that are due. I did what I was instructed to do which was mail these checks to the IRS and to the Colorado Department of Revenue before Tax Day, which is what I did," she said.


She used a blue United States Postal Service box on post office property at Alameda Avenue in Lakewood, one she says she's used before.

"It didn't even enter my mind that somebody would be able to break into this box," she said.

Thieves did, and two of her checks were stolen, "washed" and then made out to people she's never met. While the bank flagged one of the bad checks, the other was cashed.

"It was thousands and thousands of dollars," Hodgson said.


She immediately filed reports with Lakewood police, her bank and the United States Postal Inspection Service, who appeared -- to her -- to be less than surprised.

"The postal inspector that responded to my claim ... his response was just 'Yes, we are aware that this has been a problem. It has been happening at this location,'" she said.

When asked to comment on the Hodgson case, a spokesperson for the USPIS says they do not comment on open investigations. However, CBS Colorado's previous reporting found it is part of a much larger problem -- thieves robbing carriers for the keys used to access locked mailboxes.

According to the USPS's own quarterly magazine, high-volume theft from mailboxes rose 87% from a little more than 20,000 in 2019 to 38,000 in 2022 and the number of letter carrier robberies jumped from 64 cases in 2019 to 412 in 2022.

In response the USPS says they've made "significant investments in the physical security of its mail receptacles and is hardening blue collection boxes, making access to their contents more difficult for criminals in all 50 states."

How many have been upgraded in Colorado and how many are still vulnerable is unclear.

"They owe it to the public to either get rid of those boxes or have a warning at least on the box to let people know this isn't a secure box," Hodgson said.

Just last year the U.S Treasury Department issued a nationwide warning to banks about the rise in mail theft related check fraud. It included a list of red flags to watch for like large withdrawals to a new person.

The USPS offers the following tips to avoid falling victim to theft:

• Deposit outgoing mail through a number of secure manners including inside your local Post Office or at your place of business or by handing it to a letter carrier.
• Sign up for Informed Delivery and get daily digest emails that preview your mail and packages scheduled to arrive soon.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.