'Mound' of alleged stolen mail nets felony charges
Police arrested a Prescott Valley man last Tuesday, June 10 when investigators found him in possession of several duffel bags stuffed with allegedly stolen mail, checks and credit cards. Dennis Mead, 31, went to Yavapai County jail on multiple felony charges, including five counts of fraud schemes, three counts of credit card theft, and one count of forgery.
"US Postal inspectors are looking at the case, and there will probably be federal charges as well," Prescott Valley Police Department Lt. P.J. Janik said.
A judge set Mead's bond at $20,000.
Janik said a tip from an unrelated criminal investigation led police to suspect Mead might be involved in mail theft and fraud. Police enlisted the aid of Prescott Area Narcotics Task Force officers in the seizure because they believed drugs might also be involved in the case. Instead of drugs, they found three large duffel bags stuffed with suspected stolen mail. Detectives also seized forged documents.
"There was a plethora of different documents, ranging from applications and birth certificates - there are literally thousands of documents investigators are poring over," Janik said. "You wouldn't believe the mound of mail we recovered. We've been photocopying it for evidence for 10 hours a day since Wednesday. It's a very tedious process, sorting through by victim and by date, to see how long this has been going on."
Janik said investigators recovered a fourth duffel bag of mail and documents from a relative of the suspect. Janik said police are not charging the relative, who is cooperating with investigators.
"But the suspect has given us very little information," Janik said. "He has pretty much elected to remain silent."
But Janik said police believe Mead collected the large quantity of mail over time, probably by selectively removing desirable pieces from individual mailboxes.
"We're concerned that there are people out there who may have engaged in transactions with him without knowing about possible fraud - they're victims," Janik said. He asked anyone who might have more information to call Detective James Edelstein at 772-9261 or Yavapai Silent Witness at (800) 932-3232.
Residents can protect themselves from mail theft by removing their incoming mail from their mailboxes in a timely manner, Janik said.
"And don't put mail out the night before with the little flag up," he said. "Whenever possible, know what you should be expecting in the mail and follow up on it if it doesn't arrive."