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Two suspects in Fox Valley mail and identity thefts arrested, 500 pieces of mail recovered

mail thefts
Posted at 1:15 PM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 12:20:34-04

OUTAGAMIE COUNTY (NBC 26) — Two people are under arrest and hundreds of pieces of stolen mail have been recovered, authorities said Friday.

The Outagamie County Sheriff's Office said investigators arrested two people on March 9 following a traffic stop. Investigators stopped a vehicle in the town of Buchanan area and made contact with Danika A. Viasana and Carl James Breneman. The sheriff's office said both were living out of a hotel in Kimberly.

From Neenah to Appleton to Green Bay, Sergeant Nathan Borman says the two suspects were raiding mailboxes.

"Anywhere they could get their hands on mail, they would take it," he said. "Mail theft is very serious, but what they're doing with the mail is even more troubling."

According to the sheriff's office, authorities searched the vehicle and found meth, drug paraphernalia and hundreds of pieces of mail including two U.S. Passports, dozens of tax-related documents, packages and personal checks, all of which authorities say were stolen. The sheriff's office also said more stolen mail was found in the hotel room Viasana was staying in.

"They were stealing the mail with the intent of finding information they could use to steal people's identity," Borman said.

The sheriff's office said Viasana was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, felony bail jumping and misdemeanor bail jumping. Viasana has open cases in Calumet, Outagamie and Brown Counties and the sheriff's office said many of these charges relate to other mail thefts and fraud-related offenses.

Borman says the suspects did indeed steal several identities.

"Through that, they're opening bank accounts, opening credit cards, doing various things for financial gain and essentially ruining people's lives and their credit," he said.

Greenville resident Allison Ruppel tells NBC 26 a Fitbit wristband and Covid tests were taken by the suspects. Since then, she's signed up for USPS Informed Delivery, which shows customers what mail they're scheduled to receive.

"Through this, we've identified at least 100 victims of this mail theft, easily over 200 residences and businesses that the mail was stolen from," Borman said.

The sheriff's office said investigators have found 500 pieces of stolen mail from more than 200 residences and businesses. Viasana is accused of using the information found in the mail to commit financial fraud crimes for financial gain through identity theft.

Borman advises Northeast Wisconsinites to take sensitive deliveries straight to the post office.

"This isn't the first time we've dealt with mail theft," he said. "It won't be the last unfortunately. But there are things you can do to prevent it."

Breneman was arrested and booked into the Outagamie County Jail on a probation hold.

More charges may be brought in this case as the investigation continues, the sheriff's office said.

Anyone who believes their mail was stolen is asked to contact their local authorities.