Defining hotspots and data for mail and parcel crime

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Recording of theft of mail & parcel moves from motor vehicle crime numbers,

‘step-change for express sector to form true picture of parcel theft

Data on theft of parcels from a vehicle is recorded under motor-vehicle numbers; it’s almost impossible to separate the data and identify the true scale of parcel theft in express courier. The sector is struggling to target resources on data that does not exist. In a step change, mail and parcels move into their own reporting theft category. The World is about to get a true picture of courier theft for the first time. Courier express businesses should report as they currently do, the police call taker will identify the right crime to record it against i.e. a theft of mail and parcel rather than a theft from motor vehicle. Make the job easy, 999 or 101 and be sure to talk mail and parcel theft to get your incident recorded properly.


Chief Inspector Patrick Holdaway was instrumental in this work with the IOC security group, he comments,

I'm pleased that we have been able to secure an amendment to the crime counting rules, which reflects the importance of the courier sector. Crime should always be reported to the police as it helps us understand the true extent of the problem, which in turn helps us develop the appropriate response to target offenders and protect businesses


Joint chairs of the IOC security group, Adrian Sherratt DPD, and Andy Magromallis Rico welcome the news for the sector.


Adrian Sherratt,

this is a significant change by the government in the way theft of parcels is recorded nationally and will allow Law Enforcement and the industry to finally demonstrate the scale of the problem which will lead to a better investigatory response from Police and the industry implementing target hardening measures appropriate to the risk.

Andy Magromallis,

With anything, it is critical to understand the size and scale of the issue, the hot spots and areas of focus. The ability for the crime to be recorded under the correct Home Office code will assist hugely in the industry working towards minimising and mitigating crime, both towards our organisations and our people.


Example 1: A motorcycle courier is pushed from his motor bike and threatened with a knife whilst the parcels in the pannier are stolen. One crime of robbery (class 34A)

(Home Office Counting rules for theft - April 2021)

Home Office Counting Rules for Recorded Crime With effect from April 2021

42 Theft of mailbag or postal packet. (V) Theft Act 1968 Sec 1(pt).

Clarification - Recorded Crime: Theft of Mail

This section should be used for all thefts of letters or parcels which are in the process of being delivered by way of a business; that is from the time they leave the originator to the time they reach the recipient address. With the end of the Post Office monopoly, it now includes all carriers such as DHL, UPS and Fed Ex.

Parcels and packages for this purpose are those that are delivered through the Royal mail postal service or could be but the sender has opted to use an alternative carrier service. This includes all carriers such as, but not limited to, DHL, UPS, Hermes, DPD etc. All thefts of such letters or packages from the delivery vehicle are to be recorded under this classification and not as a theft from a vehicle.

Definition - Legal: Theft - Theft Act 1968 Sec 1(1)

"A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it; …".

The terms in this basic definition are amplified in Sections 2-6 of the Theft Act.

General Rule: One crime for each incident of theft of mail bags or postal packets.

Example 1: Postal packets in transit are stolen from a Post Office van by a non-employee of the Post Office. One crime (class 42).

Example 2: Postal packets in transit are stolen from a DHL van by a non-employee of DHL. One crime (class 42).

Example 3: As above, but the missing mail is initially reported to the force covering the destination area of the van, which is different from the location of the theft. One crime (class 42), to be recorded by the force covering the location of the theft.

Example 4: UPS have delivered a parcel for the manager of a service station. The cashier has signed for it and left it on the counter. A customer, paying for petrol has stolen it from the counter. One crime (class 49 other theft). The parcel has been delivered. It is not in the process of being delivered.


If there is evidence at the time of recording that the bags or packets have been stolen by an employee of the mail company, classify as theft by an employee (class 41).

Example 1: Postal packets in transit are stolen by a Post Office employee. One crime of theft by an employee (class 41).

If there is evidence of an employee of a postal operator interfering with the mail then an offence under class (99/81) interfering with the mail: postal operators Postal Services Act 2000 sec 83 should be considered.

If the circumstances of the taking amount to a robbery then the crime should be recorded as a robbery (class 34A).