The Smith County Sheriff's Office is reminding residents about new mail theft laws as the holiday shopping season begins.
A new law passed during the 86th session of the Texas Legislature earlier this year makes theft of any mail, at minimum, a Class A misdemeanor and can rise to a third-degree felony, according to a news release from the sheriff's office. Theft of mail containing identifying information is a state jail felony and can go as high as first-degree felony.
The definition for mail includes letters, postcards, packages, bags or other sealed articles delivered by a common carrier or delivery service that have not yet been received by the addressee. Also included are the same items left to be collected by the carrier.
The sheriff's office urges residents to be vigilant of their neighborhoods and surroundings, and to report anyone acting suspiciously to local law enforcement. If possible, get a suspect or vehicle description and a license plate number, the sheriff's office says, and to not attempt to apprehend or detain a suspect themselves.
The sheriff's office also recommends checking on neighbors and using home video surveillance equipment, which can help identify perpetrators and can be a deterrent as well.