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Mail theft a concern in Las Vegas Valley as federal checks go out

Government aid will be soon be flowing to Americans to help them through the economic downturn triggered by the new coronavirus, but a persistent band of mailbox thieves is determined to intercept as much of that money as possible before it reaches Las Vegas Valley residents.

While many will have the funds deposited directly into their bank accounts, others will be sent a check in the mail. And while the valley’s mail theft problem hasn’t spiked since the virus hit Nevada, U.S. Postal Service spokesman David Rupert said residents would be wise to stay on their toes.

“The biggest advice is to check your mail every day and don’t leave it overnight. Since there’s a lot of people home now, keep an eye out for your neighbors,” Rupert said. “Since people are turning to e-commerce right now more than ever, there’s more in mailboxes, and that means we all need to be more vigilant.”

One south Las Vegas post office’s experience with mail theft, documented by a June 2019 audit, shines a light on the scope of the problem.

Mail delivery was suspended for several months to residential cluster mailboxes and P.O. boxes “due to vandalism and burglary,” according the audit report for the Silverado Ranch post office at 455 E. Pebble Rd. That resulted in long wait times because customers had to pick up their mail in person at the post office.

“In addition, management had not submitted work orders to have the broken P.O. boxes rekeyed with more secure locks,” according to the report, which included images of piles of mail in bins on shelves – some overflowing. One cubby was filled with mail, and a sign attached said “Box Broken.”

Customer complaints offer another window into the post office’s problem.

From July 2017 to February 2018, the Silverado Ranch post office had 1,971 customer complaints. About 88 percent were related to mail and packages that weren’t received or were delivered to the wrong address, according to the report.

In Summerlin, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated and sent notices to residents after someone entered a post office on Spring Gate Lane and stole mail.

The IRS announced March 30 that it is developing a portal for people to provide their banking information in order to receive economic aid via direct deposit.

Qualified taxpayers who filed tax returns for 2019 or 2018 will receive up to $1,200, plus up to $500 for each qualifying child, under the coronavirus relief package approved by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump. Individuals with an adjusted gross income of less than $75,000 are eligible for the full amount, and so are married couples with income of less than $150,000, according to the IRS.

Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, told CNBC that the first payments will go out to an estimated 175 million Americans this week or early next week.

Contact Alex Chhith at achhith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0290. Follow @alexchhith on Twitter.

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