A 56-year-old Hayward man (name withheld to protect the privacy of the accused) was charged recently with the crime of mail theft. It seems that the unnamed man, who has worked for the United States Postal Service for approximately 16 years, has allegedly stolen expensive smart phones (like iPhones and Samsung Galaxys) from the mailroom in which he works. Missing items reported by customers were supposedly found in the man’s home, along with gift cards and other items that were intended for delivery.
In the state of California, mail theft is a particular variety of theft, according to law (CA Penal Code 530.5). Mail is considered protected because it may include either private information or items that are of value. Such private identifying information could be used in an identity theft scam and, of course, valuables sold off for illegal profit. If you have been charged with mail theft, in order to be convicted, prosecutors must be able to prove that you stole items or information from another person’s private mail and that you purposefully or maliciously intended to do so. However, you need only to deface or destroy mail (tearing it or opening it) in order to be charged with this crime.
Usually, mail theft is considered a misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 1 year in county jail and a $1,000 fine. However, depending on the seriousness of the particular case, and the value of any items stolen, a person might also be charged with a federal crime, which would bring with it much more severe penalties. These may include incarceration in federal prison and a hefty fine.