Missing a credit card or three? Maybe some checks or other mail you were expecting?
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service says it may know why.
In a criminal complaint filed Monday in federal court in Sacramento, officials have filed 29 counts of bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and possession of stolen credit cards in a case that allegedly revolves around counterfeit mailbox keys used to break into mailboxes over a five-month period.
The charges against Dang Vue, 27, and Billee Vang, 26, involve a series of mail thefts between January and May that court documents say were helped with the use of U.S. Mail “arrow locks” stolen from area mailboxes and used to create counterfeit keys to open other mailboxes.
Such master keys, which are stamped with an arrow and used by postal carriers to open large mailboxes at apartment complexes or neighborhood banks of boxes, are tightly controlled by the Postal Service.
The 13-page criminal complaint says Vue and Vang had stolen arrow locks that were used to make keys to open locked mailboxes. The result, the complaint says, is mail stolen from at least 10 victims that included credit cards and checks that Vue and Vang allegedly used in a series of shopping sprees at Wal-Mart, Safeway and Target.
Conveniently for investigators, the documents say, the suspects were captured on surveillance video in various stores using the cards.
The criminal complaint filed by U.S. Postal Inspector Jeanne-Marie Martin says the alleged scam came to a halt on May 12, when a resident on Nestani Way in Elk Grove called police to report that they saw someone taking mail from a neighborhood mailbox. The resident went outside to confront the suspected mail thief, who ran down the street after a Lexus that was driving away.
Police stopped the Lexus a short time later and brought the resident to the scene to identify Vang as the person who broke into the mailbox. Inside the Lexus, court document say, was various stolen mail, credit cards and a counterfeit mailbox key.
Both Vang and Vue were arrested and remain in custody at the Sacramento County Jail.