GOLDEN GATE, Fla.- Neighbors say their mailboxes are getting raided and mail stolen.
It’s happening on 5th Avenue Northwest and at least five mailboxes have been hit multiple times. “They are helping themselves to the mail, opening it and throwing it on the ground,” says one neighbor who didn’t want to share her name.
Neighbors say they are finding mail ripped up and scattered down their street. Some have had checks stolen. “One of my neighbors handed me one of my checks, he found it laying on the side of the road,” says another neighbor. The checks were for her bills; she had to cancel all of them.
“It’s terrible. It’s a federal offense,” says one neighbor. “That’s something everyone has always trusted, the US Post Office and the mail system and now someone is violating it.”
“My husband found Ms. Betty’s up–how many houses–they had ripped it open,” says Debbie Jones who no longer uses her mailbox. “Where I work there is a mailbox out front and that is where I take my mail.” Others are driving all the way to the post office to send their mail. They also are no longer sending anything that could allow crooks to access their money. “I have put mail out but not checks.”
Tips from the US Postal Service:
What can be done to reduce the risk of theft?
You can significantly reduce the chance of being victimized by simply removing your mail from your mailbox each day. Just as you wouldn’t leave your door unlocked while you’re away, or your car door unlocked while you’re at work, neither should you allow your mail to accumulate in a mail receptacle at night. Heed these safety tips:
•Never send cash or coins in the mail. Use checks or money orders.
•Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery, especially if you’re expecting checks, credit cards, or other negotiable items. If you won’t be home when the items are expected, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail.
•Have your Post Office hold your mail while you’re on vacation or absent from your home for a long period of time.
•If you don’t receive a check or other valuable mail you’re expecting it, contact the issuing agency immediately.
•If you change your address, immediately notify your Post Office and anyone with whom you do business via the mail.
•Always deposit your mail in a mail slot at your Post Office, or hand it to your letter carrier.
•Several Postal Service products offer tracking, delivery confirmation, and signature options which can improve the security of your item.
•Consider purchasing insurance on valuable items, to provide you options in the event of loss, theft, or breakage.
•Consider starting a neighborhood watch program. By exchanging work and vacation schedules with trusted friends and neighbors, you can watch each other’s mailboxes (as well as homes). If you observe a mail thief at work, call police immediately, then call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 (press 2)
What should I do if I see someone suspicious lurking around a mailbox, or I see someone steal mail?
If you observe a mail thief at work, call local police , then call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 (press 2).
What if I believe my mail was stolen?
If you believe your mail was stolen, report it immediately to your local postmaster or nearest Postal Inspector. You’ll be asked to file a formal complaint using PS Form 2016, Mail Theft and Vandalism Complaint. By analyzing information collected from the form, Postal Inspectors may determine whether your problem is isolated or part of a larger mail theft problem in your neighborhood–and it may help Postal Inspectors locate and apprehend the thieves.
If you believe you’re a victim of a crime involving the mail, you may also submit an online complaint by visiting www.usps.com, and selecting the U.S. Postal Inspection Service link at the bottom of the page.