The Santa Barbara Police Department wants to make local residents aware of an increase in mail theft within the city as well as in various counties in California.

Offenders are targeting mailboxes to obtain personal information, personal and business checks, and other details that can be used to their advantage. Following are some tips to deter these crimes:

» Have a mailbox that can be secured with a key or other locking device.
» Deposit outgoing mail directly to the Post Office attendant or other secured depository.
» Ask to pick up checks at your banking establishment rather than receiving them in the mail.
» Place a vacation hold on all mail when leaving your residence for an extended period of time.
» When your schedule allows, do not leave your mail overnight in your mailbox.
» If you are a victim of mail theft and/or are concerned about possible identity theft, see the suggestions below:

Visit to report and recover from identify theft. The website is managed by the Federal Trade Commission and can provide a recovery plan and answer frequently asked questions.

Contact the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to freeze your credit to prevent suspects from opening accounts with your personal identifying information. Consider enrollment in identity theft-protection services.

— Anthony Wagner for Santa Barbara Police Department.