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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/ASHTON ELY Cpl. Marcus Peace and Officer Seay Floyd work to sort through some of the mail that was scattered during Tuesday night's mail thefts across east Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- More than 50 residents living on the east side of the city reported their mail was stolen Tuesday night, police spokesman Sgt. Anthony Murphy said.

A team of about half a dozen officers worked most of Wednesday collecting pieces of mail strewn across the yards and streets of neighborhoods in the Crossover Road area, knocking on doors and sorting the mail at the station.

"It takes a lot of manpower to get everything returned and processed," Murphy said. "And they're working on this so they can't work their beats, so other officers are having to cover their calls and no one is available to do self-initiated work. It just affects everything."

Officer Seay Floyd, who was working the case, said the thief or thieves were most likely pulling out Christmas cards looking for money or gift cards inside and then discarding the other mail.

Law enforcement officials said it's pretty common this time of year. Floyd said he also worked mail thefts on Christmas Eve involving about 15 different homes around the city.

Eva Madison, Justice of the Peace for Washington County, said that her neighborhood and at least two others were hit by the thieves.

Although her Informed Delivery service told her she received 16 pieces of mail, her mailbox was empty Wednesday. Madison said she looked at her security camera footage and saw a car slowly creeping around, stopping at her mailbox and then driving off.

Many other residents of Covington Park, Cambridge, Lovers Lane -- Canterbury posted on Facebook about their mail being stolen and scattered around their yards.

Law enforcement officials and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service offered these tips to prevent mail theft:

• Have a friend or neighbor check your mail if you're out of town.

• Have packages sent to a post office box or a place of work.

• Do not send checks or packages by putting them in your mailbox with the flag up.

• Pay bills online instead of through the mail.

• Check your mail as often as your can.

• Pick up your mail promptly after delivery. Don't leave it in your mailbox overnight. If you're expecting checks, credit cards or other negotiable items, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail.

• If you don't receive a check or other valuable mail you're expecting, contact the issuing agency immediately.

• Tell your post office when you'll be out of town, so they can hold your mail until you return.

The Postal Inspection Service also suggests starting neighborhood watch programs and consulting with the local Postmaster for the most up-to-date mailbox regulations, including the availability of locked centralized or curbside mailboxes.

Law enforcement officials said it can be difficult to track down mail thieves unless someone has revealing video evidence. If caught, officials said, these criminals could face misdemeanor charges of theft of property.

NW News on 12/28/2017

Print Headline: Mail thieves strike in Fayetteville

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