American Philatelic Society

Stamp Thefts

As great a hobby as stamp collecting is, unfortunately small valuable pieces of paper are also of interest to thieves. We hope you are proactively visiting the page and looking for Tips to Prevent Thefts but we also provide help for victims of stamp theft.

If You Have a Theft

If you are the victim of a stamp theft, touch nothing and follow these steps:

  • Call the police immediately and describe your loss as clearly as possible. Many police officers are unfamiliar with philately and may not recognize the seriousness of a stamp crime. You should remind them that stamp theft is widespread and that professionals are engaged in the practice, just as they are in stealing furs, jewelry, coins, and art objects. Request a copy of the police report for later reference.

  • Contact the, APS Stamp Theft Committee.

  • Advise the investigating officers that you have contacted the APS Stamp Theft Committee. The services of the committee are not limited to APS members; they are available to all victims of stamp theft.

The committee immediately begins to collect information -- times, date, locations and facts that will be used as a basis for the file on your specific case. All victims, after an initial interview, are sent a detailed questionnaire and an inventory loss form. When returned, these become part of the confidential file maintained by the American Philatelic Society, available to the committee for its use in identifying your stolen property and for confidential purposes.

The committee reports some stamp thefts to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If you already have advised the FBI of your loss, that fact will be confirmed. Records are maintained for quick reference as questions arise and are used for statistical studies of theft locations, frequency, and amounts of losses.

Tips To Help Prevent Stamp Thefts

Collect Defensively! Thieves Like Stamps, Too.
Anything valuable interests a thief, and because stamp collections and philatelic holdings are both portable and negotiable, they are especially attractive. Theft menaces our hobby.

In 1965 the American Philatelic Society created a Stamp Theft Committee. Its purpose has been to collect data on stolen philatelic property; to standardize and organize descriptions; to counsel, educate, and warn collectors and dealers of ever-present dangers; and to cooperate with law enforcement agencies at all stages of investigation. The accumulated data is continuously available to all levels of law enforcement.

The unguarded, unprotected collection is an invitation to thieves. Do not extend the invitation. You can protect your collection by taking several precautions:

  • Use security measures like burglar-resistant safes, burglar alarm systems, bank vaults, and the careful recording of important philatelic material.(An article entitled "Buying a Safe" from the December 2000 issue of The American Philatelist may provide some assistance in selecting a safe.)

  • Photograph, microfilm, or photocopy the valuable items in your collection. Keep that record in a safe place but never with the collection itself.

  • Know the terms of your APS collector insurance policy -- which is available to members at a reasonable cost -- and abide by those terms.

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