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Docklands hit by mail thefts

03 Jul 2012

Docklands hit by mail thefts Image

Docklands residents have been warned not to let people follow them into their towers  following a spate of mail thefts.

Previously common only in Sydney, police say the practice of using residents’ mail to steal their identities spread to the Melbourne CBD and Docklands this year.

Det-Sgt Jason Owen said the Melbourne Crime Unit had successfully prosecuted thieves for mail thefts in Docklands twice this year and charges in a third case had been laid.

The latest incident led to central Docklands being sealed off on June 12 while police bomb disposal experts dealt with explosives allegedly found in the defendant’s car, but police say this was unrelated to the alleged mail thefts.

Det-Sgt Owen said the first sign of trouble was when Docklands victims showed up on “deception files” in February and March
this year.

“We locked up two and then locked up another two a little while later,” Det-Sgt Owen said.  “And then we had the incident last week.”

He said mail thieves used a number of techniques, ranging from reaching inside mail boxes, breaking boxes open and even being in possession of master keys.

Det-Sgt Owen said apartment towers were particularly attractive to mail thieves because they could generally work undisturbed and there was a significant concentration of mail boxes.

He said thieves would typically collect documents used by banks as identification when opening accounts or applying for credit cards such as utility bills and bank statements.  

Other scams included cashing cheques or accepting consumer offers for interest-free purchases.

Det-Sgt Owen said it was not unusual for the thieves to later return to the same mail box to “collect” their new credit cards.

“People don’t generally know this has happened until they are notified of transactions they have not made,” Det-Sgt Owen said.

Closed circuit television (CCTV) is an important weapon against mail theft but Det-Sgt Owen said some Docklands towers needed to improve their effectiveness.

He said the best way to request a police response to a mail theft in progress was to dial 000.  Otherwise, he said, the Melbourne Crime Unit could be contacted on 9247 5413.

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