CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Holidays are the peak season for mailing cards and gifts, but thieves are also on the lookout for an easy score.

That’s why the United States Postal Inspection Service is warning people to protect their mail.

The U.S. Postal Service processes over 187 million pieces of mail per day to 158 million destinations with a total of approximately 158 billion pieces of mail processed each year. So as postal workers brace for a rush of holiday packages and letters, Mary Hudson is sending hers off early.

“It’s all about beating the rush trying to find the right time to get here,” she said.

She always comes to the post office to send her mail to make sure it gets into the right hands.

“I don’t put it in my mailbox. That’s what they told me is a no-no and just to be sure it’s going to the right place, the right address,” Hudson said.

With a number of collection boxes targeted by thieves in recent years, the U.S. Postal Service shared tips for the best way to protect your mail:

  • Don’t leave letters and packages in your mailbox or at your door for a long time. Have a friend or neighbor retrieve them for you or mail them to an alternate shipping address.
  • Don’t risk sending cash. If you mail a gift card, keep the receipt for tracking purposes.
  • Deposit outgoing mail into blue collection boxes before the last collection or inside your local post office.

In September, bundles of mail were stolen from a USPS mail vehicle on Winder Street in Richmond. The U.S Postal Inspector released a photo of a person of interest and said the investigation is ongoing.

Meanwhile, Hudson is relieved to get her holiday shipping out the way.

“Sending off far away places, my family and they’re first. And then the family here, we prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” she said.

For more mail theft prevention tips, click here.