March 10, 2020 – Hartford, WI – Between March 2, 2020 and March 5, 2020 the Hartford Police Department received 5 reports of mail being stolen from mailboxes within the city.
The victim residences in these cases were either expecting a credit card to be delivered to the residence, or had credit cards fraudulently cancelled without their consent, and new ones subsequently mailed to the residence without their knowledge. It is believed the actors in this case obtained credit data, and thereby the known address of the victims, via the “dark web”.
Between February 29, and March 5, 2020, the actors would drive by the known residence of the victims in the City of Hartford, collecting the new cards from the mailbox, and the would then use them to make fraudulent purchases at various stores in the SE Wisconsin area, mostly Sam’s Clubs, where they would purchase a large quantity of gift cards.
On March 4, 2020, alert citizens in area where the actors were seen driving by mailboxes, were able to obtain images of both the suspects, and the vehicle they were operating, and reported these important details to the Hartford Police Department. It was later learned that this vehicle was a rental vehicle from Miami, FL.
On March 5, 2020, with the assistance of the rental car company, officers from the Hartford Police Department, working together, were able to obtain a real time location of the suspect vehicle used in the theft from mailboxes. The location of the vehicle was determined to be in northern Illinois. The rental car agency was able to keep Hartford officers informed of the vehicles location, while Hartford officers and dispatch made contact with the local law enforcement agency in Illinois, advising them of the location of the vehicle, and the criminal behavior it was believed to be involved in. Hartford officers and dispatch were able to coordinate with the rental car company and direct the local law enforcement agency in Illinois to the suspects last known location.
With the assistance of the local agency in Illinois, the suspect vehicle in this case was located at a residence, along with 2 other rental vehicles, also suspected of being involved in the same type of criminal behavior. Investigators from that agency were subsequently able to locate, and identify, 10 individuals from the Miami, FL area, as being associated with the vehicles and with the residence they were located at.
Further investigation revealed several pieces of mail from Hartford, along with pieces of mail from addresses in Hartford that had not made a complaint regarding missing mail. Those victims were identified, spoken to, and eventually filed reports similar in nature to the original 5 reported to the Hartford Police Department. Additionally, investigators were able to locate surveillance footage of the suspects using the cards fraudulently in SE Wisconsin. Investigators also recovered a large number of gift cards, cash, computers, cell phones and a semi-automatic hand gun. The United States Postal Inspector Service was contacted and is assisting in the investigation of the suspects and their activities.
These cases are still an active investigation at this time. These cases would not have the potential for resolution without the assistance of the community members involved, who observed the criminal behavior and realized it for what it was. They provided valuable intelligence and information that was used in the location of the vehicle and identification of suspects involved in this case. It is also a great example of community members looking out for one another and being there for each other.