Montecito, Calif. – A follow-up investigation to an online report has resulted in the arrest of 31-year-old Juan Carlos Coronado-Mendoza of Santa Barbara for mail theft and numerous other theft-related charges. On December 29, 2020, a victim of mail theft filed an online report for several packages that had been taken from their community mailbox cluster in the area of Canyon View Road and Sycamore Vista Road in Montecito. This same victim contacted the Sheriff’s Office in January to report that they again had their mail stolen, and this time they captured video surveillance of the suspect. A Sheriff’s Deputy gathered the video evidence and began an investigation to identify the repeated mail thief.
Through the deputy’s investigation, and with the assistance of Santa Barbara Police Detectives, Custody Deputies and Sheriff’s Detectives, the suspect was identified as Juan Carlos Coronado-Mendoza. The deputy authored a warrant for the arrest of Coronado-Mendoza as well as for the search of his home in the 1200-block of Liberty Street in Santa Barbara. The Santa Barbara Police Department also authored warrants for Coronado-Mendoza on several fraud-related crimes. Sheriff’s Deputies along with Sheriff’s Detectives and Santa Barbara Police arrived at Coronado-Mendoza’s residence this morning and arrested him on the warrants. During a search of the residence, dozens of pieces of suspected stolen mail were recovered, with addresses ranging from the Santa Ynez valley to Oxnard. Coronado-Mendoza was booked at the Main Jail for unlawful possession of tear gas (felony) as well as four warrants for charges including; violation of probation, making fictitious checks, using ID with intent to defraud, forgery, burglary, credit card fraud, and mail theft. He will be released without bail pursuant to the local court’s extension of Emergency Rule 4.
Sheriff’s Deputies will be continuing follow-up on this case, including contacting potential victims identified by evidence that was seized today. The Sheriff’s Office would like to offer some tips to prevent package theft as well as theft of mail used for fraud. The mailbox at your house is often an easily accessible place for thieves to steal checks, credit cards, gift cards and information that can easily make you the victim of identity theft. Just like we take steps to help secure our homes and businesses, you can take steps to help foil mail theft. Here are some tips to help prevent mail theft:
- Set up electronic billing. This avoids paying bills by checks that can be intercepted, altered and cashed. Many banks and companies offer automated services that can be set to a scheduled reoccurrence.
- Consider going paperless. You can sign up for electronic statements so there is nothing in your mailbox for identity thieves to steal and use.
- Consider using a post office box for all important mail. It is difficult for your mail to be compromised if it is secured and locked in a post office.
- Opt-out of credit card offers by going to OptOutPrescreen.com where you can halt prescreened credit card and insurance offers.
- Sign up for delivery notifications. The United States Postal Services offers a free service called Informed Delivery that gives you the ability to preview images of your mail and manage your incoming packages.
- Install a locking mailbox. Most mail thefts are from unlocked, standard mailboxes. There are several locking mailbox options available at local hardware stores and more customized and decorative options found on-line. Make sure you get one that is Approved by the Postmaster General and have it properly installed at the correct height and accessibility for your mail carrier.
- Mail thieves target groups or clusters of unlocked mailboxes. Consider getting together with your neighborhood to set up a locking group or cluster mailbox. This option will require coordination with your local Post Office.