VIDEO: Thieves unknowingly make off with 500 live cockroaches

(Associated Press photo)

MARINA, Ca. (KRON/CNN) — An entomologist conducting a study with cockroaches ordered hundreds of critters online. But with the rise of mail thefts in Monterey Bay, thieves snatched the package from her mailbox.

It turns out, the joke was on them.

Seaside police say it’s not uncommon to see an increase in mail theft this time of year.

Marina resident Rosalinda Vizina says she’s experienced it first hand.

“One of these boxes had been left open,” Vizina said. “It looked like it was pried open. And all the mail was gone. So, the post office was telling us about the mailbox thieves that have been happening all the way down the street.”

She says several residents in her apartment complex and neighborhood have reported missing mail and packages.

And while the thieves were hoping to nab a tax return or W-2 form, they were probably stunned to find out what they walked away with.

Vizina ordered 500 live cockroaches to be exact.

Rosalinda says she is an entomologist, and the roaches were a part of a study she’s conducting.

“I feel bad for the roaches in case they got smushed or tossed or something like that,” Vizina said. “For the thieves, I hope they went everywhere.”

The post office offers this advice when sending and receiving valuable items: deliver or have your items delivered directly to the office, don’t send cash in the mail, and pick up your mail as quickly as possible–especially this time of year.

“Been checking my mail quite frequently with all the tax forms coming out, all that private information,” Vizina said. “I really don’t want that take in the meantime.”