Suspected mail thief caught on video in South Tulsa

TULSA - Tulsa police credit watchful neighbors for the arrest of a woman accused of stealing mail from at least a dozen homes.

Residents called police on Wednesday when they noticed a woman going through mailboxes near 61st and South Utica. One of the neighbors even caught the suspect on video.

"From watching the video, she would try to make it look like she lived there", said TPD detective Darin Shipley. "She would open the mailbox, take mail. She would walk up to the front porch, feel through her purse. Then she would turn around and make sure nobody was watching and she would go on to the next house."

Shipley says when police arrested Jennifer Steffen, she had mail from around 60 different addresses across the city. But most of it was from the South Tulsa neighborhood where she was arrested.

Shipley says she also had pry tools that police suspect she used to break into mailboxes at apartment complexes.   

"Without the help of the citizens, this arrest wouldn't of happened," Shipley said. "We would have gotten multiple reports within the following weeks with people having their credit cards used or their checks used."

Jennifer Gatewood lives one block from where Steffen was arrested.

"I think it's pretty brave to just go up and down the street in the middle of the day and walk up to someone's home and get in their mailbox," she said. "We are a neighborhood. We see each other all the time. I would recognize if she was across the street in someone's mailbox -- that she didn't belong there. So it's a little shocking."

Shipley said mail theft and the identity theft that follows happens all the time. That is why residents need to protect themselves.

"The best way to avoid it is, when you have something important, such as checks or credit cards coming to you, have them sent to your bank", Shipley said. "If you are mailing out these items, you can drop them off at your post office or a drop box somewhere."

Anyone in the South Peoria and South Lewis area between 60th and 63rd Street who think they may have been a victim of mail theft during the past few days should call police.

Steffen is facing 12 complaints of knowingly concealing stolen property. She's being held on a bond of $18,000.

Police say more charges will likely be added as more victims are identified.

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