A suspected thief who police believed stole a Richmond councilman’s mail last year was arrested earlier this month following a lengthy investigation, police said.
Shakelia Chatman, 30, was arrested Aug. 3 on numerous identity theft violations, fraud and mail theft related charges in connection with the theft that occurred in Point Richmond on Nov. 30 of last year.
The councilman who was victimized was described as African American, but was not named by police as the department does not typically name victims of crimes. He left for a two-week vacation and asked the U.S. Postal Service to hold his mail until he returned.
After returning, a postal worker placed two weeks’ worth of mail in the councilman’s residential mailbox, but the mail was stolen before he was able to retrieve it.
Thanks to an alert neighbor, the thief was spotted. A local resident saw the woman and asked what she was doing. The woman said she was looking for a friend, but the skeptical neighbor snapped a photo of the woman’s car as she left and waited for the councilman’s return home to tell him what happened.
About two weeks later on Dec. 16, Richmond police were called to a local bank where a male suspect had attempted to pass a fraudulent check that belonged to the councilman.
Officers arrested the suspect at the bank. They got him to say enough pertinent information to allow them to identify Chatman as the thief who stole the councilman’s mail. Further investigation also revealed that Chatman was responsible for numerous other mail theft incidents at other local homes.
Richmond police said the investigation took nearly a year, as those involving mail thefts, fraud, identity thefts and forgery “require countless hours of investigation.”
The councilman’s neighbor was praised by police for being alert, taking action and helping them to solve this case.