AUSTIN - Austin police said they arrested three people who are accused of breaking into mailboxes in South and North Austin neighborhoods.
Patrick Wayne Moffett -- who police told KVUE was arrested Thursday morning -- is charged with theft of property, criminal mischief, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The Austin Police Department confirmed officers arrested Moffett before 3 a.m. near the neighborhood of Circle C.
Tiffany Thornton, a resident whose mail was stolen, told KVUE a neighbor found empty packages at or near the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. That neighbor called Thornton as well as police to alert them.
Officers then encountered Moffett and allegedly found several packages in the vehicle he was driving.
Later, police told KVUE two others were arrested -- Jacob Lambert and Courtney Mays -- for allegedly breaking into mailboxes and stealing packages. Between the three of them, police believe they stole items from at least 100 people.
Since their alleged crimes involve mail, it is a federal case.
Several mailboxes were found in the morning with locks either partially or fully broken off.
Thornton told KVUE package thefts in the Circle C. neighborhood are becoming more and more common. Several neighbors reported having the same issues year-round, not just during the busy holiday season.
Residents should check their mailbox areas to make sure they are well lit. Ask management if there are any security cameras in the area. Box complexes closer to buildings -- such as homes in the community -- are less likely to be targeted, according to police. Also, residents should check their individual boxes. Many times, flimsy sheet metal is easily removed. Boxes made of thicker steel -- made of one piece all around the back and sides -- are the most secure. Make sure locks haven't been tampered with and are sturdy.
Police urge residents to report anything suspicious immediately.