Criminal busted with 73 pieces of stolen mail and counterfeit USPS master key, court documents say

Saturday, February 17, 2024
Criminal seen sifting through mail and stealing phone before allegedly stealing 73 pieces of mail with counterfeit USPS master key
James Smalling, 36, also known as James Derrington, has been accused and charged with stealing mail from 13 different addresses.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Court documents show 36-year-old James Smalling, also known as James Derrington, has been accused and charged with stealing mail from at least a dozen different addresses.

When police arrested Smalling, he was found with a counterfeit USPS arrow key, also known as a master key, which unlocks certain mailboxes within a specific zip code.

"There's only so much you can do," Malik Muhammad said. "If somebody wants to break in and steal something, they're going to get it, unfortunately."

Muhammad lives at one of the locations Smalling allegedly targeted.

Surveillance video at the Uptown Post Oak Apartment Homes shows him sifting through mail.

The video then shows Smalling stealing the phone of a man who witnessed the crime.

Police say Smalling was arrested with 73 pieces of mail from 13 different addresses.

Court documents show he has a lengthy criminal history, including a previous mail theft charge that was dismissed after he accepted a plea deal in another criminal case in 2021.

Smalling was sentenced to six months in jail in that specific case.

Before his recent mail theft arrest, court documents show that he was out of jail on bond.

State prosecutors describe Smalling as a "clear danger to the community," according to court records.

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