Postal crime may not sound like much, but it’s a growing problem in America.
In recognition of the rising threat, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) recently announced that police across the country have made over 600 arrests related to mail theft and postal carrier robbery since May. According to a breakdown of the arrests, about 100 were for robberies while 530 were for mail theft.
Mail theft is a serious federal offense and illegal per Texas law. Stealing mail can also lead to more severe crimes, especially financial offenses such as identity theft, which is why the state treats the offense seriously.
Mail theft is prohibited
Under Texas law, it’s an offense to intentionally appropriate mail from another person’s mailbox without the other’s consent and to deprive the other person of their mail.
The offense is a Class A misdemeanor if it involved mail from fewer than 10 addressees. It becomes a state jail felony if the person steals mail from at least 10 but fewer than 30 addressees. For theft involving 30 or more addressees, the offense is a felony of the third degree.
However, if it was found during trial that the stolen mail contained personal identifying information, the offense is upgraded one degree higher:
- Theft involving fewer than 10 addressees, with identifying information: State jail felony
- Theft involving at least 10, fewer than 20 addressees, with identifying information: Third-degree felony
- Theft involving at least 20, fewer than 50 addressees, with identifying information: Second-degree felony
- Theft involving 50 or more addressees, with identifying information: First-degree felony
Texas defines “identifying information” as information on people’s specific identities. These include names, birthdates, biometric data, information on a person’s telecommunication or access devices and Social Security Numbers.
The higher the criminal degree, the more severe a person’s penalties are on conviction. The following are the corresponding penalties per degree:
- Class A misdemeanor: Up to a year in jail and $4,000 in fines
- State jail felony: Up to two years of prison and $10,000 in fines
- Third-degree felony: Up to 10 years of prison and $10,000 in fines
- Second-degree felony: Up to 20 years of prison and $10,000 in fines
- First-degree felony: Life sentence or up to 99 years of prison and $10 in fines
Mail theft is an offense that’s usually connected to identity theft and fraud. Naturally, the penalties for mail theft are as heavy for those related crimes. A charge for this offense shouldn’t be underestimated, especially when years of prison time are on the line.