Advice needed - identity theft, mail fraud and trespassing

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Eric_E, Mar 29, 2004.

  1. Eric_E

    Eric_E Supporting Actor

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    Hello everyone,

    I'd like to ask for everyone's input on what has become a very serious problem for my girlfriend, and in turn, myself. I know that the HTF membership includes a wide variety of occupations and expertise, and I'm hoping someone can offer some ideas, because my girlfriend and I are at our wit's end to get this problem resolved. I'm sorry for this lengthy post but I feel a detailed explanation is necessary.

    About four years ago my girlfriend moved into a duplex in Kansas City, Missouri. Shortly after she had moved into this house, a previous lessee began having fraudulent mail delivered to my girlfriend's address - this person joined several book clubs and had books delivered to her home, and had the bills to my girlfriend's address. This was just a minor annoyance until this person tried to have checks printed with my girlfriend's address and delivered to a different address. The check company was smart enough not to print the checks, and my girlfriend got the rejection letter in her mailbox.

    It soon became apparent that someone was stealing mail from my girlfriend's mailbox. Credit card statements, bills, and even the title to her car were conspicuously absent from her mail. Repeated phone calls to the proper agencies got these issues resolved, but the fraudulent activity continued to escalate. My girlfriend has been forced to run a credit check with each of the major agencies every six months, and fortunately no damage appears to have been done to her credit so far.

    The problem escalated further a few months ago when my girlfriend received several change of address forms with this previous lessee's name (and several aliases) on them - this person had gone to the post office and arranged to have HER mail delivered to my girlfriend's address. My girlfriend immediately called the postal inspector and informed them of what was happening, and, incredibly, was told that it wasn't a crime for someone to have their mail delivered to her address and to physically come to the house to pick it up. Obviously my girlfriend never gave her consent for this person to do so, so I can't believe that's true.

    We have removed the mailbox from the front of the house and instructed her mail carrier to use only the mail slot, but apparently this person still has been able to take items out of the mail slot by reaching inside. Recently my girlfriend rented a post office box and has forwarded all mail to her address to that box in order to correct the problem.

    Now for the scary part. A few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I were on vacation, and we returned on a weekday. We were in her house earlier than either of us would usually be home from work, and were watching TV in the living room when we heard a noise. Someone, obviously expecting the house to be vacant, was reaching into the mail slot and trying to take any mail inside. We immediately ran to the window and saw a man walk back to his car, which he had parked in the driveway. We were able to get his license plate number as well as a good description of the man and his car. My girlfriend immediately called the police, who didn't seem too concerned about the situation, but informed us that they would "keep an eye out for him." They didn't even give her a report number.

    Over the past week or so we have been in contact with the police and the postal inspector several times and have received no definitive information about what is being done to correct the situation. My best friend is a police officer with the KCPD who works in a different patrol than the one that includes my girlfriend's residence, so he couldn't do anything for us, but took the license number and told us that he would check it, and that we should ask the first officer to take a miscellaneous investigation. He checked the plate number and told us that it came back with a different vehicle description - indicating the plate was stolen.

    When my girlfriend called the first officer back, he had to ask for all the information again because he had failed even to write it down when talking to her the first time. We were outraged at this, and demanded that he take an investigation. He took all the information again, and told us he would call back with a case number. More than a week has passed and he still has not called back.

    We are absolutely infuriated by the lack of effort and gross incompetence being shown by the KCPD and the postal inspector, when we have basically provided them with all the information they could possibly need on a silver platter. License number, records of all correspondence with the various authorities, even the previous lessee's name, address and Social Security number. We have evidence of someone physically trespassing on my girlfriend's property and committing mail fraud. Nothing has been done. We realize that the authorities are busy, but we are tired of being blown off by the people who we pay to protect us.

    My girlfriend lives by herself and I hate the thought of someone coming by the house when she might be there alone. Someone, who at the very least is probably a criminal for having stolen license plates, is out there, free to come and go by the house as he pleases, and nobody seems to be interested in doing anything to prevent him from continuing to do so.

    What else can we do? We're on the verge of threatening legal action against the police, and we're going to be contacting the local news stations soon to inform them of the situation and hopefully get our story told. Should we consider a private investigator? We're ready to try just about anything to keep this from happening any longer (including moving and not leaving a forwarding address to try to prevent the problem from following us).

    One word of caution - while we're open to many options, a firearm is not practical for us, so please don't suggest one - I really don't want this thread to get derailed because of that. Any other advice anybody could give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading this lengthy post.
     
  2. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    I think the local news is a good option. They may actually confront the person and ask why they are doing this. I can't believe this isn't a violation of federal law. I thought tampering with someone's mail was very much illegal.

    You might also try placing something sharp inside the mail slot so that when they reach through they get scratched up a bit. That'd be kind of funny, plus you could get DNA evidence that way. It might be illegal, but hell, the police don't seem to care one bit.
     
  3. Leila Dougan

    Leila Dougan Screenwriter

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    While it may not be a crime to have his mail delivered to your gf's address, it obviously is a crime to steal mail. Since you can't seem to get the attention of neither the postmaster or the police, I would pursue the news station route. See if they'll air the story since the publicity will generally get their butts in gear. If the guy's been sticking his hands in the mail slot, there should be plenty of fingerprints to dust off.

    As for what to do in the mean time, I'd replace the front door to one without a slot and have no home delivery. Either have all her mail go to a post office box, or to your address, or something similar. Maybe get a big, barking dog to keep in the front yard (not sure how effective that would be). I'd also involve the neighbors so that they can keep an eye out too, especially if any of them are home during the days.
     
  4. Nathan*W

    Nathan*W Screenwriter

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    Before you call the news, write to the KCPD Chief:

    Richard D. Easley
    Chief of Police
    Headquarters Building
    1125 Locust Street
    Kansas City, Missouri 64106

    Tell him the situation in the letter. Be brief, but include dates/times that you can remember. Tell him you are tired of being put off by his department, and if you do not get a response to your satisfaction by XX/YYYY date, you will take your story to the local news media.

    Write to the Kansas City Postmaster:

    John M. Coolidge, Postmaster
    KANSAS CITY POST OFFICE
    CLAY COUNTY, MISSOURI

    Tell him the same thing. Use real letters, not e-mail and return receipt request for both. I can almost quarantee they won't give you the runaround. If they do, that's one more piece of paper to give to the media, who will be all over a story like this.
     
  5. Eric_E

    Eric_E Supporting Actor

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    Nathan:

    You want to hear something funny? My parents live literally across the street and one house over from Chief Easley. I hadn't actually thought of contacting him, but I could literally knock on his door and confront him about it face-to-face. I think he would be interested to know what his officers are doing (or should I say NOT doing).
     
  6. Erik.Ha

    Erik.Ha Supporting Actor

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    Getting the PO Box is a good first step.

    Did you get all your locks changed when you moved in? If not- DO IT NOW.

    Id call the U.S. Secret Service. Technically, financial fraud and credit crimes are under their jurisdiction because of their capacity as the enforcement agency for the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury. Although you haven't YET been hit for an identity theft, clearly YOU'RE ON YOUR WAY.

    I would then call the Postal Inspector AGAIN, and this time demand to talk to somebody higher than you did. I think the initial advice you got was absolute BULL$HIT.

    Next you call your local police department and ask to speak to the chief, or as close to the cheif as you can get. You demand that he assign a detective to the case, that you EYEWITNESSED a residential BURGLARY (a felony) taking place, you have been burglarized by the individual previously and that you demand a report be taken (this is your right.)

    Next you call the local district attorney's office and tell him the same story.

    You then follow up all of these contacts with certified letters stating what you laid out on the phone...

    How do you feel about a dog??? A BIG dog???
     
  7. Jeffrey Noel

    Jeffrey Noel Screenwriter

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    Eric, I would highly suggest taking it to the news stations. I can't remember which station has it, but "Call for Action" was a pretty good way of getting attention. I think that was Channel 9 but can't recall exactly.

    Whatever happens, fill us in on the details. Also, best of luck in your pursuit of justice. KCPD seems to be living up to their stereotypical reputation.
     
  8. Jon_Gregory

    Jon_Gregory Stunt Coordinator

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    This is definitely something that should be taken care of. All I can say is that in some parts here in North West Florida, is that if somebody trespasses on someones property like that and does it while the person is home, they are likely to have a gun pointed at them. But this is something that can go bad very fast for your girlfriend and needs to be taken care of. A lot of times when there is no physical harm type crime committed, the police tend to brush it off and not look into it as they should. Just make sure that you keep records of what has happened so far and what happens in the future. If I lived next door to the Police chief and something like this was happening to me and the police already brushed me off, then I would definitely just talk to him. But that is the type of person I am. I am very direct and do not like jumping through hoops to get somewhere. But I live in a smaller city and that might not be right for you. If your police chief is someone that would like to be appointed to the job again, he should and would listen to you whether in a letter or by other means.

    Good luck.
     
  9. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    A set of handcuffs would be good for the next time someone tries to reach through your mail slot (cuff them to the inside door handle).

    Call the police and tell them you caught a would-be burglar. See if that gets them there faster than "possible mail fraud."
     
  10. Randy Tennison

    Randy Tennison Screenwriter

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    Eric,

    Unfortunately, with the exception of the person trying to reach through the mailslot, there has been no crime committed that can be proven. The mailslot issue, while technically a burglary (entering unlawfully into a place (the house) with the intent to commit a crime (mail theft)), would never get charged in Jackson County (which is where I assume you are, or is it Clay or Platte?) At the most, it would be a misdemeanor trespass, which the police will not even arrest on. They would only issue a General Ordinance Summons (GOS). There is no proof that the missing mail was stolen (you and I know it was, but proving that someone stole it is impossible). Please understand that I'm not taking their side. I just know how it works.

    You've taken some very smart steps so far. Removing the mail delivery from the home was the first thing I thought of. You should also remove the mail slot. You can cover the hole with a piece of decorative metal. This will inform the mail bandits that you are not receiving mail through the slot, and thus, they won't try to reach in again. (Once things calm down, you can always replace the mail slot).

    Next, you might install motion detection lighting around the front of the duplex. There are nice decorative front porch lights that are motion detection lights.

    You mentioned no guns. However, I would highly recommend that your girlfriend (and all women) carry Pepper spray with them. Now, I'm not talking about Pepper Mace (or Mace with Pepper), but actual Oleoresin Capsicum spray, at a minimum 5.5% (which is what Police carry). I can tell you from experience that OC spray is extremely effective. Plus, it is safe. For example, if your girlfriend is home and hears someone at the door, and she sprays whoever is there (which turns out to be you, wanting to surprize her for her birthday), you're going to be in pain for 20 minutes, but you will recover with no ill effects. Heck, she could spray it out the mail slot, and if she got enough on your pants, you would be coughing and eyes burning enough to want to leave (been there, trust me). My point is OC spray is effective, and leaves no lasting damage. (and before anyone brings it up, sure some people have been sprayed, and it had no effect. But then again, some people have been shot, and had no effect. The stuff works in most situations. In the situations where it doesn't work, nothing short of physical damage to the body is going to stop them).

    As far as making reports to KCPD. The telephones are not the best way. You are often talking to civilians, or officers assigned as report takers. The best advise I can give is to go to the station, and request an officer to take a report. While there in person, give your information, and then ask for a "Request for Report Reproduction" which will have the report number on it. You can then be sure a report will be made.

    Also, if you girlfriend is in a duplex in a multi housing area, find out if they have a Crime Free Multi Housing officer assigned to her area. They work apartments and multi housing areas, and really try to do crime prevention. She can also find out who her normal beat cops are that work her sector, and talk to the personally. Most of the cops out there really try to watch out for their areas. Let them know what is going on.
     
  11. Eric_E

    Eric_E Supporting Actor

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    Thank you to everyone who responded with their suggestions - I honestly am glad that there are people here at HTF who care enough to respond. Your advice has been very valuable and has introduced a few new possibilities I hadn't considered before.

    Thanks especially to Randy, whose input I really respect and value. I figured it was going to be difficult to have this person arrested for crimes that are tough to prove with little physical evidence; I just expected some kind of active response from the PD - right now it feels like they have done nothing to help.

    My girlfriend does indeed live in Jackson County. She has motion detector lights in the rear of the house and around the garage, and the front is always on after dusk. She's talked about getting pepper spray, which I think would be a really good idea. Thanks for the very specific advice about walking in to file a report and the info about the Request for Report Reproduction. I'm sure that will prove useful.

    Again, thanks to everyone. It really is good to know that the members of the HTF community care about each other.
     
  12. Robert_Gaither

    Robert_Gaither Screenwriter

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    Why not put up the most obvious thing, a no trespassing sign so that when this person does this now you have a legit legal reason to press charges.

    A couple of "well placed" rat traps might be needed for some of those annoying pests. [​IMG]
     

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