Suspected courier, identity thief arrested in Texas

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A KXAN investigation is credited with helping catch a suspected mail and identity thief.

Matthew Smart, 39, was arrested and charged with first-degree mail fraud two days after KXAN released exclusive surveillance video capturing a mail theft in Leander. It turns out authorities recognized him from the KXAN report, which is referenced multiple times in the arrest affidavit.

“I asked Matthew [Smart] if he had seen the video on the news…referring to KXAN surveillance footage of the Leander mail theft, an officer wrote in the report. “[Smart] said he did not want to incriminate himself.

In surveillance video from the Crystal Falls Home Owners Association in Leander, two men are seen arriving in a Jeep Renegade. The Jeep was stolen from rental company Free2Move, the company confirmed, and was later found painted black with the license plates removed, according to the arrest report. The vehicle was abandoned around the time the KXAN report first aired.

Leander’s surveillance video shows a crime that is becoming increasingly common and rarely seen in action. Two men wearing masks are seen using a US Postal Service ‘master key’ to steal hundreds of pieces of mail from clustered community mailboxes.

“Absolutely fantastic,” said Marc Petrick with a sense of relief. “It really looks like he’s someone who needs to be caught because this, this affected a much wider scope than just Leander.”

Petrick lives at the Crystal Falls HOA in Leander, where the surveillance video was captured.

The second suspect was identified by the Austin Police Department when officers found his bank statements inside the stolen Jeep.

The APD did not immediately respond to our request for comment and clarification on the status of this individual, whom KXAN is not naming, as he has not been charged with a crime.

The two men were photographed inside the stolen vehicle by a Free2Move employee who followed the Jeep through south-central Austin, likely after being alerted to the theft of the vehicle.

Austin police arrest an affidavit for Matthew Smart, referencing the KXAN report.

The company previously told KXAN that it was “working with law enforcement on this incident.”

“Many history of fraud”

Smart, who has an extensive criminal record, was “immediately” recognized by law enforcement as the suspect “who recently made the news,” the report said.

Inside Smart’s apartment, in addition to the methamphetamine, investigators found a key copier and several duplicate USPS keys as well as “easily more than a thousand items addressed to people who don’t.” weren’t Matthew Smart,” the report said. Police also found “numerous” bank statements, license plates, car titles, passports, blank checks with a printer, checks addressed to individuals, driver’s licenses, social security cards, tax information and credit cards. credit.

None of this belonged to Smart, according to the arrest report, who initially tried to lie about his name. Police noted that he had “a long history” of counterfeiting and fraud and that at the time of his arrest he had an active warrant for debit card fraud and a previous conviction for mail theft.

The theft of highly sensitive personal information – particularly at tax time – suggests it is likely linked to an impersonation operation.

The mail was recovered with at least 60 Austin addresses as well as mail addressed to people in Buda, Harker Heights, Killeen, Cedar Park, Georgetown, Boerne, Pflugerville and El Paso. Other letters were collected from people living in Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, California, New York, South Dakota, Michigan, Maryland, Mississippi, Connecticut and Arizona.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service said it was “still too early in the investigation to confirm” whether Leander’s mail theft is linked to an incident in January when, according to the ODA, two postmen were stripped of their USPS key at gunpoint.

KXAN discovered that Smart had a lengthy criminal record with prior convictions for drugs, prostitution, burglary, forgery, and mail fraud.

He is being held in Travis County Jail on $150,000 bond.

A representative for Crystal Falls HOA declined to comment on the arrest.

USPIS Responds

The United States Postal Inspection Service says neither Smart nor the second alleged suspect are USPS employees, suggesting this was not an “inside job”.

“What will the post office do? because it seems to go far and wide, and if there were copies of those keys made, it’s not going to stop with those one or two people if they’re given out,” Petrick said.

KXAN posed this question to the United States Postal Inspector.

“Postal Inspectors are continuing to investigate to ensure that all accomplices have been identified,” said US Postal Inspector Tony Robinson of the Houston Division.

Investigators will notify mail theft victims directly once they are identified, either by the stolen mail or other evidence recovered, Robinson said.

According to a spokesperson, letter carriers receive “scheduled periodic training” on safety and security.

Anyone who notices a suspicious person following a postman is asked to call the police.

It is unclear whether the suspects in the Leander case will face federal charges. Robinson said suspects can sometimes face different charges both locally and in federal courts.

“Put simply,” Robinson said, “stealing American mail attracts the combined attention of local, state and federal law enforcement.”

So how can you protect yourself? Robinson recommends:

  • Do not deposit mail in outdoor collection boxes after the last collection of the day.
  • Do not leave mail in the receptacles overnight.
  • Check your mail regularly in the morning and evening.
  • Report any suspicious activity.
  • Immediately report any theft of mail to postal inspectors.
  • When stolen mail may contain financial information, check your credit report for suspicious activity and notify your bank.
  • The three major credit bureaus will each provide you with one free report per year upon request.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the US Postal Inspection Service at (877) 876-2455 or visit https://www.uspis.gov/report. There is a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to a conviction for mail theft. There is an additional $50,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction related to the theft of a Postal Service employee, including the January incident in Austin. You can remain anonymous.

Resources for Victims of Identity Theft


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