You may have heard that parcel and mail theft is on the rise in North Carolina. Unfortunately, this is true across the country. As these crime rates rise, more people ask themselves questions about this crime. 

The most frequent question involves how the government categorizes mail theft. Is it a federal crime? If convicted, what are the penalties? Today we will answer these questions and more. 

What is mail theft? 

Cornell Law School defines matters of stolen mail. First, they explain that mail theft includes stealing anything sent through the mailing system. This may include: 

  • Letters 
  • Postcards 
  • Bags 
  • Mail 
  • Packages 
  • Abstracts 

Also, mail theft does not only apply to things stolen from mailboxes. It also includes any form of letter box. You cannot steal from the post office or from any place on a mail route. You cannot steal from a mail carrier or delivery person, either. If caught stealing mail, you face a fine and a possible prison sentence. This sentence does not exceed 5 years. The fine may reach up to $250,000. 

Mail theft as a federal crime 

But is mail theft considered a federal crime? In short, yes. The United States Postal Service is a federal agency. Because of that, the law categorizes mail theft as a federal offense. Even though it is a “light” crime, any federal offense may result in time in a federal prison. 

Not only that, but some states have separate mail theft laws as well. This means stealing mail results in federal and state charges based on local law. This may add more fines and fees. You may face more time in jail as well.