BEND, OR -- A law enforcement ranger with the BLM found stolen mail from more than 70 Deschutes County addresses, over the weekend, including ballots for next week’s election. Unrelated investigations also turned up stolen mail in other remote parts of the county. Deschutes County Sheriff's Sgt. Kent Vander Kamp tells KBND News this is a priority case. "Mail theft, unfortunately, is not all that uncommon. Unfortunately, it landed the same time as ballots going out. In this particular time, it’s just because it had so much sensitive mail for the election and property taxes also being delivered at the same time; that’s what made this more important than others." The County Clerk is reissuing ballots to the victims. Vander Kamp says, because the election is next Tuesday, anyone who didn't receive their ballot in the mail should contact the Clerk's office.
Investigators don’t believe thieves were targeting ballots or tax statements, since they were unopened, "Most often, mail thieves are not looking for ballots and property tax bills. They’re looking for checks or things of value they can resell or modify and deposit into a bank, or sell at a pawn shop," says Sgt. Vander Kamp. He admits it will be difficult to track down any suspects, "But, every now and then we get lucky with a fingerprint, or even a tip from a citizen who tells us who the suspects are and we work off those leads."
As we approach the holiday season, Vander Kamp says cases like this will likely increase, "If we were to have this conversation in December, I would tell you it’s almost an everyday thing. Between Amazon packages and mailboxes, mail theft is extremely common. This one just took more of an important stance for us just because we recognize that voting is that foundational concept that keeps our entire democratic structure going." He recommends picking up your mail daily, and have the post office hold it, if you go out of town.