Archive for Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Thefts of trash concern police, post office official

June 20, 2001

A local post office official says somebody's been taking their trash.

Kelly Fowler, officer in charge of the Tonganoxie Post Office, said four bags of trash disappeared last Wednesday night from the post office lobby.

It's the details in the trash that concern Fowler.

"There's the pre-approved credit card applications," Fowler said. "Your phone number can be in the trash, your address is certainly in the trash, and there could be lots of other personal information if you do accidentally throw something away."

Fowler said she's heard of people selling personal information garnered from post office trash.

"So it's really scary," Fowler said. "Your trash is certainly someone else's treasure the wrong person's treasure."

She said she understands how it would be easy to unintentionally throw mail away. For instance, she said, on Wednesdays, when the mail includes multiple flyers, people sometimes throw the flyers away in trash cans in the post office lobby. It would be easy, she said, to accidentally toss out wanted mail, along with the flyers.

"Yesterday I went through the trash and found a TV guide and another magazine," Fowler said. "I assume those were thrown away in error because you wouldn't want to pay for it and then throw it away."

Sgt. John Putthoff, of the Tonganoxie Police Department, advises residents to take all of their mail, including their junk mail, home with them, rather than throw it away at the post office.

"Probably they should take it home and destroy it," Putthoff said. "I know it sounds ridiculous, but in today's age, a lot of information goes out through the mail."

Fowler said if the problem continues, one option the post office has would be to lock the lobby at night.

"And that would mean that shift workers and people who come in in the evening wouldn't have access to their mail," Fowler said. "We don't want that to happen, but we will do that if that's what it takes."

Stealing from the post office, even the trash, is a federal offense, Fowler said.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.