TOPEKA (KSNT) – When you go to work, or out for an errand, your mailbox may be up for grabs. An investigation by the Topeka Police Department and USPS inspectors found 150 pieces of reported stolen mail at a residence at the 1100 block of SW 16th Street.

The mail contained a total of over $90,000 dollars in checks, as well as life-saving medical supplies.

“Along with those pieces of mail, our community officers and U.S. Postal inspector who was involved also uncovered drug paraphernalia and other narcotics as well,” says Topeka Police Department Lt. Colleen Stuart.

Investigators were able to track down the suspect, 35-year-old Nina Ortiz with the help of community partners Safe Streets, a preventative crime and substance abuse program.

“Citizens were watching, they were looking, they were getting information about what’s going on in their community,” says Safe Streets Director Kristi Pankratz. “They were alert to their surroundings and that kind of information helped solve this case.”

According to Lt. Stuart, most mail thefts occurs when you’re not at home. But there are some preventative measures you can take to make sure that your mail doesn’t get stolen:

  • Think about getting a locked box, so only you, the mail-carrier, has a key. Or start receiving your mail at the post office, with the use of a PO Box.
  • When dealing with money, use cashier’s checks issued by the bank, especially if you’re putting a payment through the mail. That way your bank can inform you of any suspicious spending.
  • If you’re waiting for a package to arrive at your house, keep the tracking number handy to see when it’s delivered.

But lastly, Lt. Stuart says it doesn’t hurt to know your neighbor.

“Watch out for each other,” she says. Nowadays we don’t know who our neighbors are. So we don’t know what is normal and what should be suspicious.”

You can find other tips by Safe Streets here.