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Mail theft in Eaton County prompts identity theft concerns

A standard blue United States Postal Service (USPS) mailbox. The mailbox has a red stripe with white lettering that reads “COLLECTION TIMES” and “UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE”. The mailbox has a hinged door at the top that is open in the image. The mailbox is on a sidewalk next to a house. There are trees and bushes in the background of the image.
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A standard blue United States Postal Service (USPS) mailbox.

Lee este reportaje en español aquí.

Officials in Eaton County are advising residents to check if they’ve missed any overdue mail after two individuals were charged with mail theft last week.

Amber Sperbeck and Michael Craig were arraigned by a 56A District Court judge last Friday, each faced with 39 counts of mail theft and one count of improper possession of an absentee ballot. The felony charges are punishable by a maximum of five years in prison.

According to Eaton County Prosecutor Doug Lloyd, the charges stem from an investigation into a report of suspicious activity where Sperbeck and Craig were caught going through a mailbox on a home security camera.

“That was all due to a particular resident actually seeing the individuals on a recording device and then calling the police,” said Lloyd.

The investigation has found that Sperbeck and Craig took mail without permission from 39 people.

“I would ask all of our citizens of Eaton County to pay attention to their credit card statement, to their checking accounts,” said Lloyd. “Just to make sure that something didn't get lost or taken from them.”

Under a Michigan law signed in 2019, taking a person’s mail or package is considered both a state and federal crime. A first offense results in a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, up to a $500 fine or both.

“Once they have your mail and your personal identification information, it actually allows them to go out and create documents that they can use, in furtherance of trying to steal or embezzle from businesses and banks and other people,” said Lloyd.

Those who may be interested in tracking their mail before it arrives can sign up for the U.S. Postal Service’s informed delivery program. The free service sends a daily email of photos of mail before it arrives.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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