""Christmas is fast approaching and some holiday cards and gifts will soon make their way to family and friends via the U. S. Postal Service. Unfortunately, the increased volume of Christmas mail can also become a potential gold mine thieves who work overtime at this time of the year.

Sheriff Mike Tregre warns that mail theft has become increasingly common and small towns and large cities are feeling the effects. Credit cards and checks are favorites among mail thieves. The Sheriff says, “Sophisticated mail thieves have come up with a chemical solution called washing, which allows them to bleach ink on checks. Once the ink is washed away, the thieves have essentially created a blank check for themselves.”

Sheriff Tregre continued, “But, these mail thieves have developed an even more damaging ploy aimed at victims. It involves stealing account numbers, names and addresses, which may later be used to create fake ID’s, to assist in forgery. In the long run, this may be very harmful if the thieves are able to obtain credit cards under their victim’s identity. Often, victims are unaware that a theft has occurred until they receive notice that their bills have not been paid.”

 Mailing a letter was once a worry free task. But unfortunately, that is now changed. Everyone needs to take precautions to prevent mail theft, especially during the holiday season when gifts and checks are sent through the mail.

To help keep the holiday season a joyous and happy time, Sheriff Tregre offers these suggestions for your protection against mail theft and the problems which they can bring.

* Mail any important items containing personal information at the post office.""
* If you mail at a free-standing mailbox, limit the exposure of your mail as much as possible.
* Mail documents from work by giving it to the mail carrier in your building.
* Check your home mailbox frequently.
* Do not use the red flag attached to your home mailbox. If you mail
anything from your home 
mailbox, do not advertise that you have
mail to be picked up.

* If possible, pay bills and receive pay checks electronically.
* When writing a check, use a felt tipped pen. This will penetrate the check paper deeply,
making the check more difficult to wash.
* Request your checks be made out of tamper resistant paper.

Sheriff Tregre says, “A few extra precautions can help to make your holidays precisely what you want them to be. From your St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”