What you can do to prevent it from happening to you
PHOENIX - Phoenix Police have arrested three people in a mail theft, identity theft, and forgery ring.
Monday afternoon, a woman called police after seeing a white female stealing mail from her mailbox. She gave the woman's description to police and observed her getting into a white car driven by a white male.
Police then received another call about a white male stealing mail from a mailbox and entering a white vehicle. The witness followed the car to the area of 15th Ave and West Peoria, where officers took over.
Police located the car in an apartment complex nearby and apprehended Sandra Neese, 34, Jeffrey Pemberton, 30, and Jerry Sebrasky, 46.
Neese was positively identified by witnesses as the woman stealing mail. A search warrant was issued on the residence, and officers located not only the stolen mail -- but also stolen checks, stolen credit cards, counterfeit driver's licenses to match, and high quality scanners and printers with laminators, according to police.
Police say the search also revealed at least 30 "victim profiles" possibly obtained through mail theft.
There was also evidence from a burglary that occurred on January 6, during which several rifles were stolen, but these items were not recovered. Police are especially concerned about where these weapons ended up.
Neese, Pemberton, and Sebrasky were booked into jail for aggravated identity theft, forgery, and theft of mail.
Tips for Preventing Identity Theft
Below are some tips to help you prevent becoming a victim of identity theft:
- Never leave valuables or mail in your vehicle, including glove boxes and consoles.
- Shred all documents that contain personal identifying information. DO NOT throw away credit card solicitations or credit card checks without shredding them.
- When ordering personal checks, include only your first initial and last name. This prevents thieves from signing the check correctly.
- Copy all contents of your purse and/or wallet. Include both sides of each article. Keep these copies in a secure location. This allows you to know whether an item is missing.
- When writing personal checks to pay off credit card accounts, DO NOT put the entire account number on the check. Simply including the last four numbers is sufficient.
- Make a list of all bills and statements you regularly receive, including the dates they are normally delivered. If you do not receive an expected bill, contact the issuer immediately.
- Promptly remove mail from your mailbox. Never leave mail over night. Make arrangements to have mail picked up if you are leaving town or going on vacation. Deposit outgoing mail in the post office collection mailboxes or at your local post office. If you live in a rural area, place a lock on your box.
- Educate your children. Teach them not to give out personal information over the phone, Internet or any other time without permission.
- Stop pre-approved credit card offers. Have your name removed from credit bureau marketing lists.
- Protect your computer from viruses and spyware. Use strong passwords with at least eight characters which include combinations of letters and numbers. Use firewall, virus and spyware protection and update it regularly. Download software only from sites you know and trust. Set your Internet browser security to at least medium.
- DO NOT become a victim of Internet "phishing". Only give out your identifying information to sites you trust. Never respond to a solicitation from a site or email you did not initiate.
- Review your credit report at least once a year. Every person is entitled to one free credit report per reporting agency every year. There are three main credit reporting agencies in the United States. They are: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.