HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – In this week’s Community Chat at the WAVY Digital Desk, Host Sarah Goode spoke with Tom Sylvester about mail safety during the holidays.

Tom Sylvester is a PIO in the Hampton Roads area for the United States Postal Inspection Service. He gave his expert advice on best practices to follow to keep your mail safe, especially during the holiday season.

The United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) is a federal law enforcement agency and serves as the security arm of the United States Postal Service.

“Our main mission is to protect the U.S. mail, its employees, and its customers,” Sylvester said.

According to Hampton Police, there has been a slew of mailbox vandalism and thefts that occurred in the area between October 23 and December 11. Both the Hampton Police Division’s Economic Crime Unit and the United States Postal Inspector Task Force are currently investigating.

Tom Sylvester noted that although issues or crime involving mail occur, out of the millions of pieces of mail sent every day, the majority reaches its destination safely. During the conversation, he spoke with WAVY about what precautions and steps to take to help ensure safe and secure delivery.

Here are some tips to keep your mail safe:

Do not let your mail sit out

  • Sign up for alerts to know when your mail is arriving.
  • If you have trusted neighbors, ask them to safely store packages for you if you are not home.
  • If you are traveling out of town, hold your mail at the post office by signing up at USPS.com.
  • Open a P.O. box at the Post Office.
  • Use the informed delivery service provided by USPS to know when mail is arriving.
  • When possible, select signature required for delivery.

Sending mail

  • Hand mail directly to a mail carrier.
  • Deposit mail safely inside a USPS location.

What not to send in the mail

  • It is not recommended to send cash through the mail.
  • Take a look here to see what items cannot be sent via the mail. Some items include, alcohol, lithium batteries, and aerosols. You can also ask for guidance at the post office.

If mail is stolen

  • Report mail fraud and theft at uspis.gov/report
  • Or, call USPIS at their toll-free phone number, 1-877-876-2455.
  • Report no matter what the item is as it could be a part of a larger problem.

Stay alert to protect against cyber crimes and scams

  • Do not click on links in emails or texts that you are not expecting.
  • Forward suspicious messages to spam@uspis.gov to report.

Speak up if you see something wrong

  • Help prevent harm against mail carriers. Be active in the community and keep an eye out. If you see something, report it.
  • If you see something suspicious, contact local law enforcement and report it to the USPIS.

For more information on mail safety during the holidays, you can read the USPIS article on tips to keep your mail safe and secure this season here and head to USPIS website for other mail tips.