The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in locating Caitlin Smith.
Smith is facing 13 felonies and three misdemeanor charges relating to a series of mail thefts in Candler.
Sergeant John Ryan with the criminal investigations unit said this serves as a good reminder heading into the holiday season.
He said mail theft happens fast, and with the pandemic causing more people to rely on online deliveries, he said they’re expecting an uptick.
“It’s going to get a lot worse and we just got to stay vigilant and take care of and watch out for our neighbors,” said Sgt. Ryan.
Smith is accused of stealing hundreds of pieces of mail.
He said luckily Canton police pulled her over and were able to recover the stolen mail.
“We’re working with the postmaster in Candler and we were able to have that mail redelivered for the vast majority of the mail,” he said.
If you want to protect your mail this holiday season, Sgt. Ryan said there are some things you can do.
He recommends checking the estimated time your packages are supposed to be delivered so that you or someone you trust can get them as they are dropped off.
He also said people should invest in surveillance cameras.
“Quality cameras, it really does help us to identify the folks that are doing that,” he said.
During the first four months of the pandemic, when people started turning more to online deliveries, a recent study found 18% of people surveyed had a package stolen.
“You see it quite a bit more, especially with the deliveries, a lot of the times you’ll see strange vehicles following the delivery trucks following the FedEx trucks and the UPS trucks,” said Sgt. Ryan.
Officials urge you to plan ahead for your mail, to make sure your mail isn’t taken next.
Mail theft is a federal crime. If you’re caught stealing mail, you could face up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
If your mail is stolen, Sgt. Ryan said you should call your local police department or sheriff’s office.