Sunday, May 19

Miami man faces charges of stealing mail from residential mailboxes along Treasure Coast

A Miami man is behind bars in the Martin County jail because the sheriff’s office said Monday he was involved in dozens of mail thefts in that county as well as St. Lucie and Indian River counties.

Walter Suarez, 49, is facing 40 counts of petty theft for each mailbox, valued between $100 to $750, and one count of unlawful possession of personal identification information in Martin County alone.

Martin County had received a tip from St. Lucie County he was heading south.

The agency has video they say proves he was stealing from mailboxes.

The helicopter zeroed in on the suspect driving a Cadilac on Friday night.

He is seen pulling up to mailboxes along Kanner Highway, stealing mail from at least 40 mailboxes.

Detectives tracked him long enough to get the evidence needed to pull him over and arrest him.

He would remove mail,” Chief Deputy Johnn Budensiek said at a news conference. “Apparently in some cases he was opening mail as he was driving down the road because in some cases he was discarding the junk mail back out of the window of his vehicle so our detectives went behind this individual, picked up the mail he discarded and followed as he did the next postal box.

Once in custody, they found more evidence in his car: a large bag stuffed with mail that had addresses as far away as Naples and closer from Stuart and Indiantown.

“Its alarming what he was doing and the ease with which he was doing,” Budensiek said. “He clearly knew what he was doing, targeting rural parts of martin county areas where the mailboxes werent able to be seen from the house.

The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office earlier was on his trail after a vigilant resident captured an image on a mailbox camera. They say it is Suarez.

The St. Lucie deputies also were quietly following him before tipping off Martin County.

St. Lucie County is investigating at least 25 thefts.

Were not exactly sure what he was doing with the mail,” Budensiek said. “Theres so many different options. He can steal identification. Its tax season. He could be stealing tax refund checks. Information going out to IRS. He could be stealing checks out of the mail trying to wash those checks. Or just trying to cash those checks, he could be stealing credit card information.

Budensiek said deputies will eventually return the mail they picked up off the road and in the bag to the people it belongs to.

He is facing more charges in St. Lucie County as well as Indian River County, according to Budensiek.

And Suarez is suspected of steeling in Okeechobee County and Naples, Budensiek said.

Martin County detectives are also working with the postal inspector for federal charges against Suarez.

Suarez claimed he was an Uber drive and only found the bag of mail and stopped to pick it up, according to the arrest report.

He is being held on a $23,000 bond.

“Most mail thefts go unreported because the victims are unaware their mail has been stolen,” St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook. “Suspects like Suarez, indiscriminately target neighborhoods stealing all mail in search of checks to wash. Far too often, residents dont realize that they have been victimized by these criminals until they see charges on their bank statement or receive a call from the collections agency. These criminals dont recognize jurisdictional boundaries.”

People are urged not to put checks inside a residential mailbox for pickup. A better option: the U.S. Postal Service blue boxes.

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