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Mail thieves using master key to steal in Manteca
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The increasing theft of mail in and around Manteca is causing a heightened concern among residents expecting income tax refund checks and other financial documents.
Manteca Police officer Aaron Montoya has been assigned to investigate 11 incidents of theft between April and into May.
Sgt. Jody Estarziau noted that most of the mail boxes hit by thieves are the cluster variety located outside larger apartment units. Thieves in those cases don’t have to approach the living quarters, she said. Some have been entered with the use of a Post Office master key and others have had the backs pried open. The sergeant added that thieves have also been using shaved keys to open the boxes similar to those used in vehicle thefts.
She confirmed that one person had been arrested during the last year for alleged mail theft in Manteca.
Also last year a commercial business complex in the 700 block of East Yosemite Avenue had its mailboxes struck by a thief numerous times but the owner of the property didn’t report the thefts to police much to the dismay of tenants.  The suspect had been caught on a surveillance video camera but the Bay Area owner felt bringing attention to the activity would only cause retaliation rather than helping.
Estarziau said she felt a number of the victims were not reporting their losses to the Post Office but only the police making the depth of the problem difficult to calculate.  Most of the cluster boxes have been broken into by force, she added. Some residents have called the police department questioning if they had been victimized because they had not received any mail over a five-day period.
The officer added that the citizens involved have been cooperating by installing video surveillance cameras around their homes to keep an eye on their mail boxes and hopefully protect their incoming mail that includes credit card and other financial information.
The Records Division of both the Manteca Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department are currently calculating statistics to determine the exact number of mail thefts that have occurred during the 2015-2016 year. Telephone calls to the Manteca Post Office Wednesday afternoon went unanswered. 
Several Manteca residents have also complained the post office has been extremely slow to repair vandalized mailboxes forcing them to go weeks — and sometimes months — each day to the post office to pick up their mail.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email