Howard County police charged two people Thursday in connection with a recent string in thefts from residential mailboxes. 

Clifton Gardener, 27, of Upper Marlboro and Marian Bah, 25, of District Heights, both face seven counts of theft. Bah was also charged with possession of marijuana.

Police said at about 11 a.m. Wednesday an Elkridge resident spotted the pair stealing his mail and discarding the envelopes and called police.

Police, using information from the resident, were able to locate the car Gardener and Bah were traveling in and made the arrest.

Police are investigating if the pair are involved in other cases. 

In recent months, police have reported an increase in mail theft throughout the county. Police said the thieves identify mailboxes with red flags up and search for outgoing checks. 

In some case, police said, outgoing mail was found strewn about the neighborhood with checks removed. Because of the thefts, police are encouraging residents to use post offices or USPS collection boxes. 

Police also released the following tips from post inspectors:

  • Always place your outgoing mail in a mail slot at your local post office, in a blue USPS collection box, or hand it to your letter carrier. 
  • Retrieve your mail as soon as possible after it is delivered. Don't leave your mail unattended for extended periods. Don't leave it in your mailbox overnight. 
  • If you cannot regularly retrieve your mail promptly, consider installing a lockable mailbox or obtaining P.O. Box service from your local post office. 
  • If you will be away from home temporarily, you can notify your local post office to hold your mail with the online hold mail service on the US Postal Service website: https://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/ 
  • Monitor your bank account statements regularly, and report any charges or checks you did not authorize. Monitor your credit report and report any accounts you did not authorize.