I am living in California and I have received an email from my apartment complex manager that states that packages not picked up from the mailroom as of Friday will be marked return to sender. Is this legal (given 18 U.S. Code § 1708. Theft or receipt of stolen mail matter gen­erally)?

  • It certainly isn't theft or receipt of stolen mail. Whether or not it is proper is a harder question.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 23, 2019 at 2:11
  • But if the sender is someone who is disinterested in "resending" the mail, then it is effectively stealing the package from me because the package was delivered and is now no longer in my custody, which results in direct financial hardship for me.
    – kdissel
    Apr 23, 2019 at 2:22
  • 1
    What is the problem with having it picked up by Friday? It seems that the manager is giving a reasonable time for the packages to be picked up, he doesn't have to act as storage for things you don't want/need right now.
    – Ron Beyer
    Apr 23, 2019 at 3:12
  • 3
    @kdissel There is a difference between financial hardship to you and theft. Theft is taking it for yourself.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 23, 2019 at 3:47
  • I'm curious how the situation changes if they say they will return packages if not picked up in 72 hours, and there is no notify to you a package has been received, or is going to be returned.
    – bramp
    Nov 30, 2021 at 2:25

1 Answer 1


The key language to be taken notice of in that code is 'by fraud or deception'. If the property manager has provided reasonable notice of a clear-out, then the code doesn't apply due to lack of fraud or deception. But at the end of the day, just go and check the mail room on a Thursday afternoon and you shouldn't have any problems.

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