Mail, package bandits run off with Christmas gifts

Michelle Basch,

WASHINGTON — First the Grinch stole Christmas, and now he’s stealing mail and packages.

Police in one part of the region are looking for a woman who stole a package soon after a delivery company left it on someone’s porch.

It happened Friday morning on Weston Drive in Ellicott City, and Howard County police think there may be more victims.

Officials say the delivery was made at 9:50 a.m. At 11:20 a.m., a blue two-door sedan pulled into the driveway and a woman got out of the passenger side and took the package.

A home surveillance system caught images of the whole thing.

The woman is described as white, about 180 pounds. She has dark hair that was pulled back with a headband and possibly into a ponytail. She wore a dark, hooded sweatshirt with a white emblem on the chest, jeans and gray shoes.

Another thief — or thieves — struck in the Sentry Woods area of Waldorf, where hundreds of mailboxes were ransacked.

“They took a lot of cards and envelopes and then they went through them. We believe they were looking for gift cards and cash and those types of things,” says Diane Richardson with the Charles County Sheriff’s Office. “But in the process of looking for those, they took a lot of Christmas cards that didn’t contain anything and they ripped those to shreds.”

The responsible bandits left a paper trail of discarded mail on area streets, which led officers to a nearby park where a large amount of stolen mail was found.

Envelopes that were still intact were re-delivered, and everyone in the neighborhood was notified of what happened.

Richardson says no arrests have been made, but some evidence was left at the scene. The sheriff’s office is working on several leads in the case.

The Waldorf mail was taken either late Saturday or early Sunday. , ofIt’s a good example of why leaving correspondence in the mailbox for a long time is not a good idea officials say.

“Get that out of your mailbox right away, particularly this time of year,” says Richardson, who adds that stolen mail is a nationwide problem around the holidays.

Here are some theft prevention tips from the United States Postal Inspection Service:

  • Never send cash or coins in the mail. Use checks or money orders.
  • Remove mail from your mailbox as quickly as possible after it’s delivered. If you won’t be home, ask a trusted neighbor to pick it up for you.
  • Have the post office hold your mail if you’re going to be out of town for a while.
  • Consider starting a neighborhood watch program.

Howard County residents can call the police department at 410-313-2200 if something goes missing. Make sure to check with the delivery company first and keep track of everything you’re expecting to receive.

Anyone with information about that case is asked to call 410-3113-7867. Callers can remain anonymous.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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