High-speed chase suspects found with stolen mail

Deputies had been called to Bear Springs Apartment for person entering mailboxes

By Garrett Brnger - Reporter, Luis Cienfuegos - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - A woman and her boyfriend fled Bexar County Sheriff's Office deputies early Wednesday morning at speeds fast enough to beat first class mail, but not fast enough to get away with it.

Jamie Lee Martinez, 33, ended up crashing into a retaining wall by I-10 and Pine Street, ending the chase, BCSO said. Deputies found her and Jose Luis Benavides, 32, in the car, along with "numerous pieces of stolen mail," according to an incident report.

"Inside the vehicle were items of mail and Texas drivers' licenses, obviously not belonging to them," said Deputy Johnny Garcia, BCSO spokesman.

The chase began after deputies were called a little before 3 a.m. to the Bear Springs Apartments halfway across town, near Loop 1604 and Marbach Road, for a suspicious person, who, according to the incident report, had been seen entering the mailboxes.

"Details came in that two individuals, a male and female, appeared to be breaking into mailboxes," Garcia said.

The pair drove off when deputies arrived and didn't stop when they tried to pull the car over for a traffic stop, Garcia said.

A BCSO sergeant at the scene said the driver got on Loop 1604 going the wrong way and reached speeds of up to 120 mph. The driver then got onto U.S. Highway 90 and I-35, before crashing by I-10 and Pine Street at about 3:30 a.m.

Back at the Bear Springs Apartments, a handful of mailboxes could be seen with their doors still hanging open and scratched up on the lock edges.

Garcia said of the five pieces of stolen mail recovered, four were from the Bear Springs Apartments and another was from a nearby location.

"We have reason to believe these two suspects were involved in tampering with those mailboxes," Garcia said.

Mail theft is a federal crime, and the U.S. Postal Inspection service confirmed it is working on the case with BCSO.

For now, Martinez is facing a charge of evading detention with a vehicle, and Benavides was booked on a parole violation and fraudulent use, possession of identifying information.

A postal inspector with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said the volume of mail theft complaints reported to postal inspectors "is consistent with the number of complaints reported last year." Given that it's currently tax season, thieves may be looking for the information from tax-related paperwork, he said.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service said you can help protect yourself from mail theft by taking the following steps:

  • Collect mail shortly after it is delivered.

  • Ensure cluster mailboxes are well-lit and clear of shrubbery.

  • Report vandalized cluster mailboxes to the local post office.

  • If going out of town, have a friend collect your mail or request a temporary hold at USPS.com.

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