Thieves in Redmond are stealing everything from Christmas presents to your most private, personal information, without setting foot inside a single house. Instead, police say a rash of mail thefts are to blame.
The reports started coming in last weekend, scattered throughout the city. Police have traced the stolen mail to homes in both Redmond and Woodinville.
Homeowner Jeff BeCraft says he first noticed something was wrong first spotted a pile of mail on the street in front of a bank of mailboxes.
"Everything that was left was just junk mail," he said. "There wasn't anything of value left. So I thought, somebody's out here, stealing mail."
He was one of several people who found piles of discarded mail.
Police say the thieves took what they wanted, like Christmas presents, packages, financial documents, even a few boxes of blank checks. They left behind the empty envelopes and the junk mail they weren't interested in.
"One day there was no mail, no mail for everybody. even though the postman had just been there," said Brian Gillis.
The thefts have him worrying about identity theft, and police say that's a valid concern.
"You know, it's got my name, my address - if it was a credit card bill or something," he said. "Someone can try to ruin the credit history I've built up."
Gillis spent Monday evening going door-to-door, asking his neighbors to sign a petition for locked mailboxes. If everyone agrees, he says the postmaster has agreed to make the switch.
Neighbors are also considering installing surveillance cameras near their mailboxes.
Law enforcement and postal inspectors offer up a few other tips:
If you're expecting a package and you won't be home, arrange for a neighbor to take it inside. You can also call the post office and have them hold the package until you can pick it up yourself.
Redmond Police say they've had reports of people following around UPS delivery trucks and snatching packages the moment they're placed on a doorstep.
Even more care needs to be taken when it comes to your financial information. Detectives say you should never have blank checkbooks mailed to your home, instead, have them sent to the bank. If you're expecting a new credit card, make sure to follow up with you bank if you think it's taking too long to arrive.
Last but not least, if you're going out of town for the holidays, have your mail delivery stopped while you're away.
Postal inspectors say anyone caught stealing mail could face federal charges.