Lawton neighborhoods experience stolen outgoing mail
LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Normally around the holiday people worry about having packages stolen, but for one neighborhood in Lawton, they’re worried about their outgoing mail being stolen.
Turtle Creek residents are getting their outgoing mail stolen before the mail carriers even have the chance to pick it up. It seems like putting up your red flag on your mailbox is a green flag to criminals who may be stealing outgoing checks.
Joanne Celedon, a Turtle Creek resident, said she was out walking her dog when she noticed her neighbor’s mailbox was open, with the red flag up.
“So sure enough, as we’re talking, the mailman comes down our street on my side, and she asked him ‘did you already take the mail from my side?’ He goes ‘no, I haven’t even started.’ So, she knew then that it was definitely stolen,” Celedon said.
But this was only the beginning, and soon she would find out her neighbor was not the only victim.
“She was walking around the morning of the 7th and found the mail strewn across the yard and thought it was garbage. So, she picked it up and brought it home. She thought it was open mail,” Celedon said.
Clarence Fortney is also one of the victims in the case.
“I remember the mail that was put... we put it in the night before, and knew that there were checks and those checks were taken,” Fortney said.
Fortney said he’s lived in Turtle Creek for 30 years and this is the first time this has happened to him. He said he will now think twice before putting checks in the mail.
“Our mail that is going out, in particular, those that require a check are safe and secure. But, this is the first time it’s ever happened to us, so just going to look at it differently in the future and probably drop mail that has checks directly in the U.S. postal mailbox at the post office,” said Fortney.
Celedon said her neighbor discovered her mail had been found in a nearby hotel after a hotel employee called.
“She said there were hundreds of pieces of mail there, and she said it looks like they had tried to erase or remove the name of the pay-to-person,” Celedon said.
Lawton police said they’ve received a report from Turtle Creek and the investigation is ongoing.
Officials at the Liberty National Bank said if you are a victim of a stolen check, make sure to cancel that bank account.
Lawton Police Department officials said that from November 15, 2021 to November 15, 2022, they’ve only had 5 reports of stolen mail and that’s including packages as well.
They are asking people to file a police report if their outgoing or incoming mail is ever stolen.
Lawton Police Department gave different ways to protect outgoing and incoming mail:
• Request a signature for incoming mail
• Have packages delivered to the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, or businesses
• Take outgoing checks to the Post Office directly
• If mail or packages are stolen report it to the police as well as the carrier service
• Cancel bank accounts if a victim of stolen checks
• After mailing a check call to verify it was received
• Purchase surveillance cameras
• Always write down serial numbers of high-priced items
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