Man charged with stealing mailMail, identity theft growing crimes, police say
By: Jon Avise, South Washington County Bulletin
A Cottage Grove man was charged last month for allegedly stealing mail from more than a dozen Cottage Grove mailboxes, and police say more mail thefts occurred in another of the city’s neighborhoods in late August.
Nicholas Jennrich was charged in Washington County District Court with two felony counts of mail theft and one count of fleeing an officer, a misdemeanor.
The 26-year-old man was arrested in the early morning hours of Aug. 8 after a foot chase on Ingersoll Avenue, when Cottage Grove Police responded to a report of a man rummaging through numerous mailboxes in the area of Jeffery Avenue.
The officer approached Jennrich, who was riding a mountain bike, on 85th Street, according to the Washington County District Court criminal complaint. Jennrich fled, ditching the bicycle and fleeing on foot, before slipping and falling in the driveway of a home on the 8600 block of Ingersoll Ave.
And out of his jacket pocket flew a stack of mail. Officers also found pieces of mail from 13 homes in the area strewn along the route Jennrich took when fleeing police, according to the complaint.
Jennrich admitted to police he had gone from mailbox to mailbox removing mail, telling them he was “bored” and thought it would be funny. He denied opening any articles of mail — though police recovered open pieces of mail, according to the complaint — and said he had not intended to commit identity theft or forgery.
Mail theft in Cottage Grove isn’t uncommon, said Pete Koerner, Cottage Grove deputy director of public safety.
“Identity theft is so big now,” Koerner said, “and that’s one of the places people get information, from mailboxes.”
Koerner said another, unrelated mail theft incident occurred Aug. 23, when employees at Zywiec’s Landscaping and Greenhouse reported someone had dumped a pile of mail in the business’s parking lot off Highway 61. The mail had come from seven addresses on Kingsborough Trail, Koerner said, and many pieces of mail and packages had been opened with the contents removed.
Police returned the mail to residents and urged them to cancel credit cards or take other precautionary measures.
Joseph Kane was one of those who had mail stolen from his Kingsborough Trail home.
“I came home and saw the mailbox door open,” he said. One of the pieces taken, he said, contained his social security number.
The United States Postal Inspection Service recommends promptly removing delivered mail once it arrives, depositing outgoing mail in secure mailboxes at the local post office and having mail held at the post office when on vacation or away from home for an extended period of time.
Protect your mail
- Never send cash or coins through the mail. Send a check or money order.
- Promptly pick up mail after delivery, especially if expecting checks, credit cards or similar items. Cottage Grove Police say most thefts occur in the early mornings or late at night.
- Have the local post office hold your mail when on vacation or away for an extended period of time.
- Always deposit mail in a secure mailbox at the local post office.
- Keep an eye on neighbors’ mailboxes, reporting suspicious activity to the police and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Source: U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Cottage Grove Police Department