Ryder Lake residents are dealing with a rash of mailbox thefts, and a crown corporation that doesn’t seem to care.
Barry Smith, who’s lived in the area for 33 years, says the first break-in occurred sometime around Dec. 1 and another break-in happened a few days later. He had just returned from a trip to Hawaii. His neighbors had been collecting his mail while he was away, and when he went to fetch it they told him about the problem.
The first break-ins were noticed at a bank of mailboxes on the corner of Parsons Road and Ryder Lake Road, but those weren’t the only ones invaded. A bank of boxes on Elk View Road, was also targeted, along with boxes further up the hill.
“And those are only the ones we know about,” Smith said. “I have never received anything from Canada Post to tell me my box has been broken into.”
Smith’s neighbors phoned the post office, and reported the break-ins in a voicemail message. Smith tried to do the same, dialing up the Sardis post office and asking for someone to call him back.
No one did, so he dropped by for a face-to-face chat.
“I talked to the postmaster, and he informed me the Chilliwack post office on Yale Road takes care of that sort of thing,” Smith said. “But they don’t have a phone number.”
Well technically they do.
Google Canada Post Yale Road and you’ll get 604-795-1604, a number that feeds you into an automated system. Choosing the ‘customer service’ option gets you a 1-800 number. Hitting zero in hopes of getting a human gets ‘the operator isn’t available’ message.
Playing by the rules, Smith dialed the 1-800 number. He spoke to a woman who promised to take care of the problem and get back to him.
She never did, leaving Smith thoroughly unimpressed.
“I didn’t like the cavalier attitude that Canada Post displayed,” he said.
“They (Canada Post) are there to provide a service, and they should be providing the solutions. Not us.”
Smith pines for the days of home-to-home delivery, when mail theft was a non-issue.
Canada Post cut that out years ago. But when they installed the banks of mail-boxes, they put them in areas that invite bad behaviour.
Smith’s box is 500 feet away from one house, totally shielded by trees and shrubbery. Another house sits 200 yards away, but it’s around a corner with a driveway that completely blocks sight-lines.
“These boxes are situated where there’s no one close by, with poor lighting or no lighting at all,” Smith explained. “They should be relocated to where they’re closer to residents or they should put up lights and security cameras over the top of them.”
If Ryder Lake residents aren’t happy with the setup as it currently is, they have just one option.
“We can pay for a post office box downtown,” said Smith, who reported the mailbox break-ins to the RCMP on Monday.
Contacted Monday afternoon, RCMP Cpl. Len Vannieuwenhuizen said Canada Post has investigational jurisdiction.
If Canada Post doesn’t fix the situation to his satisfaction, Smith plans on taking to the streets with a petition.
“I’ve talked to other people and mentioned that idea, and there’s quite a few people who’ve expressed interest,” he said. “So I may take it on, go door to door and call for some type of action.”
Contacted prior to deadline, Canada Post did not return phone or email requests for comment.
• The mail-box break-in problem may have extended past Ryder Lake.
Chilliwack resident Dixie Nash said she was walking past a community mail box on Evans Road and saw yellow police tape draped across it.
“I think the public should be alerted about this. Maybe it is the time of year. That and desperation. But what is Canada Post doing about it? It means the mail isn’t safe.” she said. “I think they should go back to door-to-door delivery.”