Two men are behind bars tonight for a citywide rash of mail thefts in Tulare.
According to police 35-year-old Richard Judd and 37-year-old Charlie Blackwood of Bakersfield are the men responsible for stealing around a thousand pieces of male in a two month crime spree.
Police said the men hit all across the city and estimate at least 100 victims.
“The mail boxes that are targeted are the community mailboxes,” Sgt. Ed Hinojosa said Thursday.
Each block of boxes contained about 20 individual mailboxes. Hinojosa said the thieves used homemade keys to get inside. “They’re opening the back panel, and once they get the back door open they have access to all (the mail boxes),” he said.
Armando Salem has lived in Tulare for 50 years. He said he won’t even touch his own kids mail.
“It’s addressed to them, even though they are my children I have no right to open it,” he said.
Now he’s worried about things like identity theft. “That’s the worst part about it. People should be put in jail. It’s a very, very big crime,” Salem said.
Hinojosa said the department started seeing a spike in mail theft about two months ago. They’ve since been staking out neighborhoods across the city. A break came early Thursday morning. “One of our officers was off duty and observed a vehicle that he believed was acting suspicious,” he said.
The officer put in a call, and a traffic stop turned up exactly what police needed — “A large amount of mail in the backseats, scattered throughout the floorboards,” Hinojosa said.
He said there was about a thousand pieces of mail in the vehicle. The two men were arrested on several charges including possession of stolen property. They could also face federal charges.
Hinojosa said the postmaster will be there Monday to start returning the mail, and that’s also when federal charges could be added.