Mail thefts in Manteca haven’t slowed down.
On Friday morning Judy Spears’ husband walked to their mailbox near Sierra High School only to find the front doors of every single one of them wide open. There was nothing left inside.
It was the second time in roughly a year that the family had been targeted by a mail thief that investigators now believe has a copy of the master key that opens every cluster mailbox in the City of Manteca.
And while the matter is being investigated by both the Postal Inspector’s office and the Manteca Police Department, one local resident is hoping that he has come up with a plan that will serve as a deterrent for anybody who plans on keeping the ruse up for any period of time.
Joe Molina, who just recently started a campaign to get the Manteca Police Department to unscramble the bulk of their communications so that amateur scanner monitors like himself can know what is going on in the community, has purchased 16 camera units that he is distributing to homeowners in parts of town that have already been hit by theft more than once.
He doesn’t want to give the exact location of the cameras because he doesn’t want homeowners to face retaliation for those who are responsible, but Molina did say that he has already put out 13 of the 16 that were purchased with money from his own pocket. He is planning on purchasing more if he gets a good response from the community.
“It seemed like it would a pretty good deterrent and I just wanted to come up with an idea that people could utilize since there isn’t a whole lot that’s being done right now,” Molina said. “Most of the people that I talk to are happy that something is being done, and maybe something will think twice about breaking in if they know there might be a camera in the area.”
While mailbox thieves used to just a crowbar to pry open the back of the boxes – or smash rural boxes to the ground with vehicles – many in Manteca over the course of the last year have discovered that their mail has been stolen in the middle of the night by somebody who used the locking mechanism on the back of a mailbox that was ripped off and taken to duplicate a key that will then unlock every mailbox in Manteca.
According to Manteca’s Postmaster, all options are currently being investigated to prevent further thefts, but simply rekeying every mailbox would likely work because they could simply use the new locking mechanism – if it isn’t updated or changed, which is also being discussed – to create a new key.
Residents are being advised to collect their mail daily and not leave it overnight.
Not every theft, however, has occurred at night.
Molina said he heard a call over the radio on Friday that Del Webb had been hit by mail thieves and followed it up later in the afternoon to confirm it.
Anybody that’s been a multiple target of mail thieves that is interested in positioning a camera on their house – and who are directly in the line of sight of one of the mailboxes – is urged to email Molina at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.