With the mail, mistakes are bound to happen. It’s not always easy for carriers to find the right houses, and packages with illegible writing might make it nearly impossible to get the right delivery address.
Letters and packages may get mixed up, but those mistakes can lead to trouble if the person receiving them refuses to return them. If you get mail that doesn’t belong to you, then you should not open it. Don’t throw it away, either. Instead, take the mail to the correct recipient or write “return to sender” on the package or letter. You can also return it to the post office directly.
Is it illegal to open someone else’s mail?
Yes, it is. If you intentionally open someone else’s mail, you can be charged for doing so. This does not apply to accidents, such as accidentally opening your neighbor’s letter when you received it in a pile of mail addressed to you.
How are people charged if they are caught stealing letters or parcels?
If they are caught, they could face a sentence with imprisonment for up to three years. The crime may also result in charges for deception, fraud or embezzlement, depending on the circumstances leading up to the mail being in the wrong hands.
Convictions for mail theft under 18 U.S. Code, Section 1708, are subject to penalties of up to five years in federal prison as well as heavy fines. Mail employees who steam are also subject to fines and imprisonment under 18 U.S. Code, Section 1709.
Mail theft can lead to serious penalties, so don’t take it lightly
Mail theft is a serious crime. If you’re accused of stealing mail by a neighbor or colleague, don’t sit back and think that this will blow over. Take steps to defend yourself from the start.