Mail Thief Caught by Video Surveillance and Alert Residents

Mail Thief Caught by Video Surveillance and Alert Residents
Photo: Melissa Wheeler

Santa Barbara County – Since November 2017 of this year, multiple residential communities throughout Santa Barbara County have been the targets of mail thieves, some of whom have recently taken advantage of the Thomas Fire and Montecito’s mudslide and debris flow natural disasters.

According to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover, “mail theft continues to be an ongoing issue countywide,” with the Painted Cave community north of the City of Santa Barbara suffering the most consistent problems related to stolen mail.

Because Painted Cave is distinctly rural and remotely located near the crest of the Highway 154 Pass, area residents seem to have been highly proactive in solving the problem.

In order to learn the identity of their mail thief, Painted Cave residents “recently installed a surveillance system” which recorded “a female suspect removing mail.” As the video surveillance was being closely monitored by a resident at 2:00 a.m. on March 3rd, a call was promptly made to 911 Emergency Dispatch.

Minutes later, SBSD deputies arrived on the scene and “located a vehicle parked in a turnout” nearby. The ensuing investigation revealed 41-year-old Melissa Wheeler “reclined in the driver’s seat” with “a pile of mail and packages in the back seat.”

It didn’t take deputies long to identify the suspect on the surveillance video as Wheeler, and to learn that the mail and packages in her possession had been purloined from residential mailboxes throughout Montecito, Mission Canyon, and Santa Barbara City neighborhoods. Also found in her vehicle was a quantity of methamphetamine.

Wheeler was taken into custody and transported to Santa Barbara County Jail, where she was booked on charges of stealing mail, possession of stolen property, and possession of methamphetamine, with her bail set at $50,000.

Photo: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking

Mail Thief Caught by Video Surveillance and Alert Residents was last modified: March 9th, 2018 by admin
Categories: Santa Barbara

About Author

Robert L. McCullough

Bob McCullough is a television and screen writer-producer who has worked for every major television network and film studio with more than 200 produced credits. Bob has recently co-authored “Where Hollywood Hides: Santa Barbara”, a hardcover book featuring a wide range of film, television, and music industry celebrities living on the Central Coast. His weekly iTunes podcast about “all things Hollywood” can be heard at

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