A rash of mail thefts in Paradise may be over. On Thursday, Paradise Police apprehended Christopher Larson, 25 of Paradise. For two months, someone was breaking into mailboxes in Paradise. It was the talk of the neighborhood.
"A neighbor said someone had broken into her mailbox and stolen her daughter's paycheck," said Paradise resident Robert Bruce. "And it was cashed."
Paradise Police said there were approximately 60 victims. Once the culprit got personal information he knew what to do with it to turn a profit.
"He was very sophisticated with Internet services," said Paradise Officer Robert Wright. "He knew how to gain access to Internet accounts and how to create those accounts."
There were several instances in which police said the suspect stole checkbooks and forged names and signatures to fraudulently access victims' funds.
Larson was caught with the cooperation from two other suspects involved in the scheme. On Thursday, police developed information that led officers to a home on Roberts Road sometimes affiliated with Larson.
Inside the home, newly stolen mail was found. They located W2 tax forms and a computer police said was used in creating the fraudulent accounts.
From there they learned Larson might be at the Paradise Kmart store. Police said they found Larson hiding in the bathroom after allegedly trying to cash a stolen and forged check.
Police said they are certain they have their man.
"He admitted to stealing mail including various tax information and admitted to opening up three bank accounts in three different people's names," said Wright.
There may be more victims who don't even know it.
"I contacted a subject today who had no idea that his mail was stolen back in December," said Wright.
The three people arrested will face federal charges but are currently sitting in the Butte County Jail.
Police urge people to take steps to avoid becoming victims of mail and/or identity theft.
Try to collect delivered mail as soon as possible
Do not let mail sit unattended for long periods of time
When possible, use a locking mailbox to restrict access to delivered mail.
Monitor personal account information and credit reports and promptly report fraudulent activity to police.