Approaching a suspect is the wrong idea, USPS adds
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Crime related to mail delivery is a year-round problem that's heightened this time of year as more holiday gifts are delivered to homes, but law enforcement says you can make a difference.
Surveillance cameras have become normal fixtures on many homes revealing crimes that might not have been seen otherwise, especially package thefts. Right now, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service says that those aren't the only crimes they're investigating.
"Letter carriers are being robbed on the street, for mail, for their keys, and protecting the people who work hard to deliver the mail is our number one priority," said U.S. Postal Inspector Matthew Norfleet.
They say video has been a critical tool to help in their investigations into mail thefts and robberies.
Surveillance video like the one recorded in a San Jose neighborhood showing a man breaking into a mail truck.
Issa Ajlouny is with the local nonprofit Safer San Jose.
A city grant helped them provide security cameras to homes in San Jose.
Ajlouny says that they and neighbors shared the video they had of the incident and were able to help provide information.
"I notified one of the community members that has a license plate reader from Safer San Jose, told them what time (the incident happened)," Ajlouny said. "He saw the mail truck and he saw the car following and was able to give us a license plate. With that information, it was only within days that the suspect was arrested."
ABC7 News reached out to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office to verify and find out more information about the suspect and have not heard back.
Postal Inspector Matthew Norfleet though says that providing the kind of information the neighbors brought forth is key.
"If we don't get that information from the public," Norfleet said, "We can't use it to help narrow down where the mail thefts are happening."
Still Norfleet says approaching a suspect is the wrong idea.
"We have apprehended some rather dangerous people stealing mail," Norfleet said "So don't put yourself in danger in any way."
Norfleet says you can contact postal inspectors with information at their national dispatch number, 877-876-2455 or go to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Norfleet says a $50,000 could be given to someone who gives them information that leads to an arrest and conviction of mail thieves, robbers or people who damage post offices.
Though the nonprofit Safer San Jose says they've been told they are eligible for reward money, they tell ABC7's Zach Fuentes the value of their work goes deeper.
"I think the real reward is neighborhoods working together," Aljouny said.