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Poulsbo mailboxes hit in theft spree; suspect arrested in Port Townsend
By RICHARD D. OXLEY
Bainbridge Island Review
POULSBO — A Port Townsend man was arrested this week on charges of mail theft and identity theft, and police said he may be responsible for some of the recent mail thefts in Kitsap County.
Adam Justin Lysiak, 38, is being held on $250,000 bail after he was arrested Tuesday in Port Townsend. More than 1,000 pounds of mail was discovered in his possession.
The bust came after police received a tip that he was living in the area and was running an extensive identity theft operation. Port Townsend police were joined by six other agencies when they arrested Lysiak at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Lysiak jumped off the rear balcony of his second-floor apartment before being taken in. He was transported to a local hospital before being booked into jail.
The suspected mail thief is no stranger to authorities. Lysiak was already wanted for escaping community custody in Federal Way. His original conviction in King County was for identity theft and possession of stolen property and possession of fraudulent bank checks.
He is also wanted by authorities in Kent for three counts of possession of stolen property, and in Federal Way for forgery and attempted theft. Fife authorities have also sought Lysiak for a criminal traffic charge.
Although based in Port Townsend, Lysiak allegedly traveled throughout Kitsap and Jefferson counties under the cover of night and opened mailboxes. He is accused of using information obtained from stolen mail to create fake identities in order to pass fraudulent checks and get credit cards.
Victims will be contacted through the mail if their information has been discovered in Lysiak’s loot, police said.
“We are still pulling mail out of bags, it’s too much mail to go through quickly,” Port Townsend Police Officer Luke Bogues said. “It’s going to be a long effort.”
Computers, printers and other materials were also seized by authorities. The evidence is so extensive that Port Townsend police expect to spend weeks sorting through it all.
Lysiak could face more than 100 felony charges, as the state of Washington considers every 10 pieces of stolen mail a separate felony.
Police suspect that Lysiak likely passed bad checks or used stolen credit information to make purchases and are asking retailers to contact them if they suspect he visited their store.
Bogues said retailers can contact him or Detective Jason Greenstan during business hours at (360) 385-2322.
Police are requesting that residents refrain from flooding the station with calls. Police will contact theft victims as fast as they can.
“I know people are probably anxious, but this is something that will take a significant amount of time,” Bogues said.
Local authorities have been well aware of a recent rise in mail thefts. So far, the stolen mail appears to be from Jefferson and Kitsap counties, Bogues said.
At least seven reports of mail theft have been reported by Poulsbo Police and the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office in the past two weeks. Bainbridge Island Police Department has received 11 reports of mail theft since the beginning of February. These thefts are possibly linked to Lysiak, sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson said.
“Does that account for all the mail theft, no, but it would account for a large amount of mail thefts recently,” Wilson said.
Law enforcement officials do have a good idea as to why mail is targeted. Mail theft leads to identify theft. The end game is drugs.
Thieves use bits of personal information to obtain everything from credit lines or even steal money directly from a bank account.
“They spend so many hours trying variations on a theme to get this information,” Wilson said.
Wilson said it isn’t just the narcotics trade that attracts identity thieves, though other forms of financial fraud often go for bigger scores.
“They want the stuff that is going to get them into someone’s credit account or bank account,” Wilson said. “And when people see that red flag go up for outgoing mail, they know that most of the time it’s going to be bills with checks inside.”
Checks are a convenient prize for thieves. They contain all the banking information they need for a quick lump of cash.
“They can wash that check or print their own,” Wilson said. “They know it’s not going to last forever, but if it’s good for a couple thousand dollars, why not?”
— Megan Stephenson of the North Kitsap Herald and Charlie Bermant of the Peninsula Daily News contributed to this report.