Deputies find mail stolen from 100 Polk County residents

Three people face charges alleging they stole mail from over 100 residents of Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties, according to court documents.

Deputies recovered mail from 101 Polk County residents, including 11 people in west Salem, according to Polk County Sheriff’s Office affidavits.

The charges come as Salem residents have reported concerns with mail being stolen even from  locked mailboxes at apartments and townhouses. 

Police reports provide an account of thefts earlier this month and three ensuing arrests.

A man called the sheriff’s office shortly after 7 a.m. on Saturday, April 8, and reported a person going through mailboxes on Perrydale Road in Dallas.

The caller said a car was stopping at every mailbox, and a man was getting out and opening them. He also said he could see a woman in the car and noticed the suspects had left a glove in his driveway.

A responding deputy saw mail scattered on the road nearby nearby.

When the deputy pulled over the car, he reported there was mail in the back and on the floorboard of the passenger seat.

The three suspects gave deputies varying explanations of who had stolen the mail.

Deputies searched the car and found stolen mail throughout. Inside a purse, they found a title for someone who lived in Redmond, an insurance card and JCPenney credit card bearing someone else’s name.

The mail stolen from Salem included two “promotional style checks” with an address on Liberty Road, according to a police report.

A Polk County grand jury indicted the three passengers –  Ashley R. Chandler, 26 of Dallas,  Austin D. Draegert, 25 of McMinnville, and Danika A. Bates, 25 of Grand Ronde – on 95 counts of mail theft.

Bates was also charged with attempted first-degree aggravated theft and six counts of first-degree forgery.

Deputies found her with 18 different people’s checks, six of which she had altered, according to a police report.

A trial is scheduled to begin May 30, court documents showed.

Bates was also charged on Tuesday, April 18, in Marion County Circuit Court with second degree theft. Information about the charge was not immediately available in court records. 

A USPS investigative report found there were 1,079 cases of mail theft investigated in 2021, leading to 1,511 arrests and 1,263 convictions across the U.S. 

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.