The "Long Stick" Mail Slot Scam:
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Did you know an enterprising thief can steal your wallet and/or your keys, while you're at home, without even entering your house? This burglary method is so obvious, but many of us would not think to take measures to prevent it....
A fascinating television program that originates on the BBC in the U.K. (and airs on CourtTV in the U.S. and Discovery Channel in Canada) called "The Real Hustle" exposes this shockingly easy method with frightening efficiency. If your front door has a mail slot, you can easily become a victim. Here's how it works:
It's easy for a potential thief to silently open your mail slot to see if there are any items worth going after, as our friend (above right) is doing. You are most likely sleeping soundly at this point.
As you can see from the image above (from a camera mounted on the end of the stick), opening the handbag on the floor and carefully removing the wallet inside is surprisingly easy. The wallet is small enough for the thief to retrieve it through the mail slot's opening.
A stick of the same length with a powerful magnet attachment (below right) can also be used in a similar way to steal your keys. As you can see, the jacket left hanging in this home's foyer is an easy target. Again, the mail slot is the perfect size for the thief to easily remove the keys. He can easily break into your home later, or help himself to the car in your driveway!
How Can I Protect Myself From This Method?
Well, it goes without saying that you should not leave handbags or keys by your front door. But you've probably already figured that out.
What About An Alarm For My Mailslot?
Although we were able to find a wireless alarm designed for a mail box (www.smarthomeusa.com/Shop/Home-Monitor/), we had no luck in finding an audible warning device for a mail slot. In our ten years in the security industry, we have never seen a "mail slot contact" that would be compatible with a standard home security system. An enterprising installer may be able to improvise something with a standard surface or recessed door contact. However if this was even possible, you can be sure that the larger alarm companies wouldn't even allow their technicians to try it (time is money). You might have better results if you are with a local alarm company; they can be more flexible when it comes to special requests.
By the way, all of the items were returned to their original owners!
"It's easy for a potential thief to silently open your mail slot to see if there are any items worth going after."
This method is different from many buglaries in that the thief actually wants you to be home during the "break in". Why? Because like most of us, we leave our jackets, keys, and handbags by the front door for easy access when we enter and leave our homes. If you aren't home, chances are these items wouldn't be there either.
The tools needed are simple and readily available to any thief: a long stick with a grabber attachment (top right) commonly used to pick up litter, or a similar device with a strong magnet or hook attachment.