SAN ANTONIO - Leon Valley police believe they have stumbled onto a large mail theft case after finding hundreds of pieces of identifying information including tax forms, checks, and even adoption papers during an arrest on Tuesday.
The department found the documents after arresting Stephen Wilson, 38, and Michelle Marquez, 31, on previous warrants with the help of the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force at an extended stay motel in the 6600 block of Bandera Road.
Now, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service says it is investigating whether or not to file federal mail theft charges.
"These two were burglarizing mailboxes at apartment complexes and in neighborhoods and stealing any mail they could and trying to forge the checks and even steal some identities," said Leon Valley police Lt. David Anderson.
The discovery came after a Leon Valley police detective running license plate information at the motel found a stolen car with unmatched plates.
After linking Wilson and Marquez to one of the rooms and arresting them, Anderson said they found the documents stuffed into duffel bags inside a box in the closet.
"There's everything from tax returns to, like I said, vehicle registrations and titles, and even some folks had lost some legal documents regarding adoptions and medical records also," Anderson said.
Among the evidence found was a check from a nonprofit veterans support group, though the group's use of a special ink to write out the check may have saved the victim from a forgery.
"That's what their (Wilson and Marquez's) intent was -- to save the routing numbers and wash the check -- so to speak," Anderson said.
Wilson was almost caught in March when San Antonio police responded to a suspicious vehicle call in the 5300 block of Fredericksburg Road.
According to an SAPD report, after making contact with Wilson, the officer found Wilson had an arrest warrant for a burglary charge out of Guadalupe County.
However, when the officer tried to arrest him, Wilson took off. An SAPD spokeswoman said a warrant was not issued for the incident.
Now, he and Marquez both remain behind bars, which investigators hope will mean more mail remains in mailboxes.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service provided these tips for protecting yourself from mail and package theft:
- Collect mail and parcels shortly after delivery by the mail carrier
- Ensure cluster mailboxes are well illuminated and free of shrubbery
- Report vandalized cluster boxes to the local post office
- If you plan to be out of town, have a friend collect your mail/packages or request a temporary mail hold at USPS.com
- Have parcels delivered to a residence where someone is there to receive them or shipped to their place of employment
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service offers a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of mail thieves. Persons with any potential tips should also call 1-877-876-2455.
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