Woman arrested for Bay Area mail theft

MILPITAS, Calif. (KGO) -- A Bay Area woman was jailed Thursday for mail theft and police say pulling off the crime was easy.

RELATED: Thieves use master key to steal mail in SF

Leah Kaye Costa, 45, was in illegal possession of a U.S. Postal Service master key, allowing her to unlock mailboxes across the Bay Area.

Milpitas police arrested Costa after she parked illegally in a handicapped space. Police say she was high on drugs and that methamphetimine was found in her car.

"A search was done of her car and located mail that did not belong to her," said Lt. John Torrez of Milpitas police.

Officials say the mail was from different addresses from the South and East Bay. "We also found a master key to one of the post office boxes in addition to handmade keys, possibly used to open up mailboxes," Torrez told ABC7 News.

Master keys can open community mailboxes found in countless neighborhoods across the Bay Area. Police believe that's how Costa got more than a dozen pieces of mail.

"The arrest and recovery of the key will hopefully help stem some of the mail theft we've seen in the area," Torrez said.

Last Sept. two thieves were caught on tape breaking into a building on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco using a stolen or counterfeit master key to rifle through mailboxes.

Mike Mani was the victim of mail theft and fears his identity may be at risk. "that's what I'm afraid of, ID theft," he said. "It's happened to friends, a nightmare to get undone."

Police don't know how Costa got a hold of the stolen or counterfeit master keys. The U.S. Postal Service is investigating.
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