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2015-12-17

Deputy thwarts alleged mail theft

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

The observation skills of a Bandera County Sheriff's Office deputy might lead to a "Merrier Christmas" for county residents.
According to BCSO Chief Deputy Matt King, on Thursday, Dec. 10, off-duty Deputy Birdie Tyler was traveling on Highway 16 when she noticed a vehicle in front of her driving erratically. She called emergency dispatch to report that the vehicle's driver was unable to maintain a lane of travel. However, while still on the line, Tyler noticed something a bit more sinister.
As noted in the law enforcement report, Tyler told dispatch the suspect, since identified as Brandi Adkins, 33, a resident of Robindale Road in Bandera, appeared to be removing mail from boxes clustered along Highway 16 South. Tyler followed the woman until deputies arrived to detain her near Tobin Ranch Road.
"When they searched Ms. Adkins' vehicle, deputies discovered a large quantity of mail that had apparently been taken from Bandera County, Grey Forest, Boerne, Kendall County and Waring, among other areas," King said in an interview on Tuesday, Dec. 15. "The thing is some of the mail was addressed to Deputy Tyler and the Tobin family."
Adkins was arrested for having possession of less than a gram of a Penalty Group 1 controlled substance. She was transported to the Bandera County Jail, where she remained at press time.
"Investigators with the Postal Inspector's Office are working on the mail theft," King said, adding, "which is a federal offense." Additional charges are pending against Adkins.
Under United States Code Section 1708, mail theft includes stealing, obtaining by deception, secreting and destroying any letter or package or attempting to do so. A letter or package is considered "mail" when it is left for collection by the US Postal Service - whether it is in a mailbox or in a bag or container adjacent to a collection box or authorized collection point.
According to www.wklaw, anyone who steals mail could face serious punishment. Because the USPS is a federal agency, mail theft is charged as a federal offense. Anyone convicted of mail theft could face up to five years in federal prison and fines to a maximum of $250,000.
Mail theft is reported as the leading white-collar crime in the United States, according to USLegal. Reasons for mail theft include obtaining Social Security numbers, bank statements, checks, credit cards and personal information for criminal purposes.
To prevent mail theft, remove mail from mailboxes promptly and immediately notify the post office and other correspondents of any mail address change.
"Unfortunately, mail theft is more likely to occur at this time of the year when people send checks as Christmas gifts," King said. "Stay in contact with your relatives and try to determine if they're sending checks to kids as gifts. We caught this alleged mail thief, but more are likely out there. We're asking everyone to please be diligent."

(Sources: www.ask.com/government and www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1708)