Theft of Mail

The offence of theft of mail is outlined in section 356(1) of the Criminal Code.

A person commits the offence of theft of mail when they steal:

  • anything sent by post after it is deposited at a post office and before it is in the possession of the person intended to receive it;
  • when they steal a container or covering used to contain mail; or
  • when they steal a key that can unlock anything belonging to Canada Post.

A person also commits the offence of theft of mail when they make, possess, or use a copy of a key that can unlock anything used by Canada Post or that can unlock a receptacle or device used for the receipt of mail with the intention of stealing mail.

A person also commits the offence of theft of mail when they possess anything they know has been used to steal mail, a mail covering or container, or a key to unlock anything belonging to Canada Post, or when they fraudulently redirect anything sent by post.

Examples

Person A steals a package addressed to person B off the security desk in their condominium before the mail carrier can place the package inside person B’s mailbox.

Person C steals a mail bag from the back of an opened Canada Post truck.

Person D steals the keys to a Canada Post mail truck and uses them to open the back of the truck and steal all the mail contained there.

Person E fraudulently redirects person F’s mail to person E’s home so person E can steal person F’s packages.

Cases

R. v. Castellano, 2021 ONCA 272

In R. v. Castellano, the accused was charged with one count of theft of mail when mail that did not belong to the accused and several lock picking kits were found in his car following a police search.

R. v. Szigeti, 2012 ONCJ 427

In R. v. Szigeti, the accused was charged with one count of theft of mail for having, in his car, a Canada Post mailbox and a master key capable of opening Canada Post mailboxes.

Offence Specific Defence(s)

Colour of Right

If a person owns a package or letter, they have colour of right in that item. If a person has colour of right in an item, they cannot be convicted of theft of mail.

Lack of Intent

Where the person lacks the intention to steal, they may not have completed the offence of theft of mail.

For example, where person A takes a stack of letters from their PO Box home and does not notice that one of these letters was addressed to a neighbouring PO box, they may not have completed the offence of theft of mail.

Lack of Knowledge

Where the person does not know that they possess something that can unlock something belonging to Canada post or a receptacle containing mail or something that has been used to steal mail, a mail covering or container, or a key to unlock anything belonging to Canada post, they may not have completed the offence of theft of mail.

Not Posted

Where the person steals a package or letter that has not been sent through the post, they may not have completed the offence of theft of mail. They have, however, likely committed another theft offence.

For example, where person A steals a cheque placed in an envelope and left on a table by person B, person A has not completed the offence of theft of mail.

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