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Brazen package heist hints at larger issue of identity theft

Police are searching for a suspect after a brazen daylight theft in Riverdale was caught on surveillance video.

It happened just before 3:30 p.m. on Friday in the Pape Avenue and Gerrard Street East area.

Adam, the homeowner who refused to give his last name, said he was expecting a package to be delivered to his home that day but ran out to do a few errands with his wife.

“When we got back, we noticed the package was not in the mailbox where we anticipated it to be. (We) checked the tracking and it had been delivered,” he explained.

That’s when he turned to his home surveillance and saw the shocking theft.

“Somebody had just stepped up onto the lawn and grabbed the package, stuffed it into his coat and walked off,” he said.

Adam said the package was stolen about 20 minutes after it had been delivered.

“I feel like he was probably following the post truck so I don’t think it was random,” he said.

Police say mail theft is more common than you’d expect and can often lead to the larger crimes.

On Monday, police released a warning to the public after a man was charged with fraud and identity theft. The investigation began after a similar instance of mail theft.

“What started out with simple mail theft from someone’s porch, (led) to doing a search warrant on a residence and they found very sophisticated equipment that was facilitated in making fake identification, including all kinds of government IDs,” Const. Jon Morrice a Toronto police crime prevention officer explained.

On Jan. 13, police began an investigation into frauds allegedly committed at various Money Mart locations across the city.

It’s alleged that the suspect created fake IDs from stolen mail and opened numerous accounts at the Money Mart locations. He allegedly cashed stolen and fake paycheques and received loans under the fake names.

Gideon Jericho Garcia, 45, of Toronto is facing multiple fraud charges including 13 counts of identity theft and 11 counts of uttering forced documents.

Police believe there are other victims out there.

Const. Morrice said government identification such as renewed drivers licenses and health cards are hot targets for thieves.

“We tell people during tax season or when your drivers license is to be renewed … to be extra vigilant about checking when those documents are coming. If they don’t arrive then that should be a red flag,” he explained.

There are a few simple steps homeowners can take to make themselves safer from mail fraud.

“Locks on your mailboxes, not having your mail just dropped on the front porch, shredding documents once you’re done with them. Looking out on your neighbours porch,” said Morrice.