Theft suspect caught with 37 pounds of stolen mail, counterfeit keys

Emeryville police caught a mail thief in the act and later recovered 37 pounds of stolen mail and counterfeit keys, the department said Thursday.

Shomari Evans, 42, of Morgan Hill, has been arrested for breaking into the mail room at Bridgewater condominiums along Christie Avenue early Wednesday morning and opening mailboxes and stealing the mail inside.

Police said when officers arrived, Evans ran from officers to a second-floor garage and jumped into some bushes.

He later surrendered.

Evans is facing burglary, fleeing from police, and other charges related to mail theft.

"These are serious felonies," U.S. Postal Inspector Jeff Fitch said. "These are cases we take very seriously."

It’s a pervasive problem plaguing the streets of Emeryville, according to neighbors who have had their mail or packages stolen in recent weeks and months.

"We couldn’t use our own mailboxes for two or three weeks because someone broke into the mailboxes," Nastashia Thibedeau said. "It’s really discouraging when things get stolen."

Many apartment complexes, and condominium communities, have mailboxes grouped together that are accessed by postal carriers using a single key.

SEE ALSO: Thieves targeting mail keys in East Bay USPS carrier robberies

Fitch said those keys are often copied or even stolen from postal workers by thieves, whose goal is to get personal credit card, bank or insurance information.

"They’re going after the attractive items," Fitch said. "They’re looking for where the money’s at."

Fitch said there has been a major uptick in mail thefts in the Bay Area and across California, beginning at the start of the pandemic.

Thieves typically work in groups that are sometimes very closely knit, or other times loosely associated, he said.

Law enforcement is working to go after them by sharing information and looking for patterns, including criminals revisiting the same locations to steal mail.

Brentwood Police have responded to six separate incidents from its Somerset senior living community.

According to a Facebook post by the department, investigators linked all of the crimes to Franklin Huffman, 36, who was arrested and charged with mail theft.

Police say they searched Huffmans's home and found more stolen mail and counterfeit keys.

Postal inspectors urge victims to report mail theft online or call 1-877-876-2455 and also file a local police report. Additionally, they say it’s important to check credit card or bank statements three to four weeks after an incident and report any fraudulent activity as it may help investigators identify the possible suspects.

But for some, there’s ongoing discontent over the repetitive break-ins and thefts.  

"Countless times, we’d find the panel would just be open, swinging open," Emeryville resident David Mourra said. "The thefts kind of died down but now they’re back again. If they do something at this point, I’d be pleasantly surprised."

Brooks Jarosz is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BrooksKTVU