By Miriam Raftery
March 13, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – Residents from Alpine to Mt. Helix have reported mail theft during the past week. In some cases, even locking mailboxes have been burglarized by determined thieves, neighbors report.
One resident posted on the Mt. Helix Next Door online forum yesterday, “Last week I saw a post of mailbox break-ins on top of Mt. Helix. Well now they have come down the hill to Grandview Drive. We have a steel lock box and they ripped that right open. My close neighbors were also hit early afternoon.”
Another Mt. Helix Next Door forum user elaborated, “It looked like they were using a crowbar on Mt. Helix.”
On the Alpine Community forum, Patricia Reed reported that her postal deliveryman told her that mail had been stolen from her mailbox. “In the morning on March 9, I put mail in at 9 a.m. and when he arrived the flag was up on the postal box with no mail in it. He informed me that this was happening everywhere in Alpine,” she wrote.
Another resident indicated that his maibox on Beaumont has been struck twice in the past two months by thieves who appeared to have swung a “pry bar” to break open the boxes.
But some neighbors are fighting back. Two individuals posted that they have installed surveillance cameras to monitor their mailboxes. They hope to catch thieves on video.
Mail theft is a federal crime. You should report all mail theft incidents to the Postal Inspector. Thefts can now be reported online at https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/investigations/mailfraud/fraudschemes/mailtheft/ReportMailTheft.aspx or by calling 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777). You can also notify the Sheriff’s Department.
Other ways to dissuade mail thieves include investing in very sturdy locking metal mailboxes with a metal pole cemented into the ground, making it difficult to topple or break open.
Locked boxes only protect incoming mail. Always take outgoing mail to a post office or other secure location to send.
Consider getting a P.O. box or a private mailbox at a UPS store, Postal Annex or similar outlet, since Post Office boxes don’t allow you to accept packages sent by non-U.S. Postal Service delivery companies.
Contact the Sheriff and ask help from your neighbors to form a Neighborhood Watch group. Posting signs alerting would-be thieves that your area is protected by Neighborhood Watch is another deterrent against crime.