Have you checked your community mailbox lately?
Residents are being reminded to check their mail daily to avoid having mail stolen from brazen thieves who bust into the roadside boxes. But a growing list of community mailboxes are already out of service this week following a rash of break-ins over the past week.
Mailboxes were broken or pried into in the Popkum area, Yale Road East, Slesse Park, Cheam Reserve, Woodbine, Garrison Crossing, Vedder Road, Sappers Way, Marie Drive, Canterbury Drive, Luckakuck and throughout Promontory. And those are just the ones people have noted on social media and through complaints to this newspaper.
Canada Post told The Progress they are working to restore service as quickly as possible. In some locations, the boxes were fixed the same day. In other areas, customers have gone almost a week without their regular mailbox service. Customers affected are advised to visit their closest postal office during regular business hours.
Brian Tade said both sides of his community mailbox were busted open sometime last week, and he phone the post office to let them know.
“It didn’t look like there was any vandalism to it at all,” Tade said. “But all my mail was gone.”
He worries about identity theft, although he’s not sure there would be enough information in his personal mail for a thief to work with.
Peter Butcher, president of the Upper Valley local of Canadian Union of Postal Workers, said that identity theft is a very real threat to community mailbox customers.
“They’re looking for ID,” he said. “Identity theft is mainly their target, that’s my view on it.”
And the timing of the spate of thefts is no mystery to him.
“Right now it’s GST time, it’s tax time, it’s Easter,” he said, meaning every box could reveal tax returns, government cheques, and parcels containing cash and presents.
“It’s one stop shopping,” he added.
While there are more community mailboxes now than ever, he said it’s an age-old problem in rural routes where the large boxes are the norm.
“This has been going on for as long as I can remember,” Butcher said. “But it’s more prominent now because we’re losing the letter carriers to these super boxes.”
The best way to ensure your mail stays safe, he said, is to pick your mail up daily. But that’s not always possible, he adds, for various reasons. The mailbox could be far from home, or the carrier could bring the mail late without the customer knowing.
Mail could be delivered as late at 8 p.m. by new or fill-in carriers, he said.
New designs of the mailboxes have made it a bit harder to break into, but not impossible.
“Nothing will stop a crook,” Butcher added.
Canada Post agrees on that point.
“Unfortunately, there is only one type of person that chooses to break the law, that’s a criminal and they are determined regardless of the target,” Anick Losier, director of media relations for Canada Post said. “It takes an equal level of determination to deter and stop those who commit property crimes and we are committed to do everything possible to support the police in their efforts to do so. We are working to restore service as quickly as possible.”
Canada Post offers some tips to protecting your mail.
They say to collect mail daily, use their ‘hold mail’ service while on vacation, to never send cash, and to deposit sensitive or financial information directly at a post office.
They ask that if you see an overturned or vandalized street mailbox, call 1-800-267-1177, and if you see suspicious activity, to report it to the RCMP.
Anyone who believes they may be the victim of identity theft should contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.