Stolen mail case affected residents on 20 different Wallingford streets, police say

Stolen mail case affected residents on 20 different Wallingford streets, police say


WALLINGFORD — These days law enforcement commonly deals with digital fraud and the variety of methods used to steal personal data online. But a more traditional form of fraud, through the conventional mail, is just as serious and can be even harder to detect, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service.

“Customers feel violated” when their mail is stolen or tampered with, said Maureen Marion, Postal Service manager of corporate communications for the Northeast. “It encroaches on your property, and you don’t expect it. It’s not like you know when you didn’t receive a piece of mail. Sometimes you don’t even know.”

In December and January, a Wallingford man stole mail from 77 homes on 20 streets in Wallingford, according to police. Patrick Tardif, 18, of 15 Cooper Ave., has been charged with 11 counts of identity theft, 12 counts of forgery and 10 counts of criminal impersonation. Tardif is alleged to have forged and cashed checks worth several thousand dollars. Tardif stole checks from two homes each on Grieb Road, East Main Street and Old Rock Hill Road, and one home each on Summit Drive, Durham Road and New Rock Hill Road, according to the arrest warrant.

In mid-December, Tardif stole a checkbook from a Wallingford resident’s mail and cashed four checks at TD Bank on North Main Street worth $2,450 using his learner’s permit as identification, the warrant states. When he attempted to cash a fifth check, a representative from the bank became suspicious. Police were informed and Tardif was later charged after his mother, Melissa Tardif, turned in multiple bags of mail to police that she found in her son’s room.

Representatives from TD Bank weren’t available for comment Tuesday afternoon.

“We see this happen every so often, but recently it’s been more online fraud,” police spokesman Lt. Marc Mikulski said Tuesday. “We don’t see this as much, but you shouldn’t let your mail sit in your mailbox too long, especially if you know you’re being sent checks or things with personal information.”

If you are expecting mail and don’t receive it in a timely fashion, contact the sender, Mikulski said. There are serious ramifications that can arise from mail theft.

“Most of the people involved in this case didn’t know this was occurring until things started showing up as activity on their bank accounts,” he said. “Traditionally the mailman would leave mail in your box and no one would think about touching it 20 or 30 years ago. Now it’s a treasure trove.”

Police attempted to contact every residence with stolen mail via phone calls and letters, according to Mikulski.

Incidents regarding stolen mail are investigated by the Postal Service Office of Inspector General, Marion said. Theft or receipt of stolen mail is a federal crime punishable by a fine and up to five years in prison.

While investigating Tardif, police coordinated with the Inspector General’s office, Mikulski said. Federal charges were considered against Tardif, but instead the Inspector General’s office “let us handle it on a state level,” he said. “If something doesn’t reach a certain threshold, we handle it ourselves.”

Marion said theft of mail, no matter how big or small the case, “is not a laughing matter.”

“There is a different respect for the mailbox nowadays, and these issues come up,” she said. “It’s horrible to hear. What one person thinks is just a joke has significant ramifications for people.” (203) 317-2224 Twitter: @Andyragz

Streets in Wallingford from which Patrick Tardif allegedly stole mail:

East Main Street

Ward Street Extension

Mapleview Road

North Elm Street

Farm Hill Road

Perkins Drive

Masonic Avenue

Old Durham Road

Durham Road

Sunrise Circle

Jobs Road

Old Rock Hill Road

New Rock Hill Road

Constitution Street

Center Street

Long Hill Road

Pine Glen Terrace

Summit Drive

Chester Lane

Grieb Road

Source: Wallingford Police Department

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