Mail thefts in Manteca aren’t slowing down.
In fact, based on complaints by residents and businesses the pace is picking up.
One community cluster box at a commercial office complex on East Yosemite Avenue between Powers and Raylow avenues west of downtown has been struck a half dozen times this year.
The thief continues to get away with countless envelopes – some with checks inside — by scaling a wrought iron gate.
The latest theft saw a thief caught on a security video at the complex east of the center at Powers and Yosemite avenues that’s anchored by the Dollar General Store.
The thief spent nearly an hour ransacking the cluster box that he opened with a crow bar. At one point he went back to his car to get a second, larger crow bar to rip the locked faces off the more than two dozen delivery boxes. He had been seen jumping over a concrete block wall to gain entrance to the mail box delivery area, standing calmly going through the mail and picking what he wanted to take with him.
The irony of the late night theft was that he couldn’t get his car to start once he returned to drive away with the mail, according to a witness who saw the video tape. Postal customers all over Manteca have been complaining to police that they are missing important pieces of mail and others who had mailed payments that never got where they were expected to be sent.
The Postal Service is keeping a low-profile in alerting the general public to the growing problem of mail theft.
Frustrated victims have pointed out if the public is aware of the past mail thefts some citizens might be more apt to call police about suspicious activity.
Stockton and Modesto are also being hit with heavy rates of mail theft.
The rash of mail thefts has been keeping post office mechanics busy repairing the damaged boxes. While boxes are being repaired, the mail is being kept safe at the post office for pickup by the recipients who no longer have the opportunity to walk to the boxes near their homes while repairs are underway.
The mail box repairs on sidewalks are backing up, according to the Manteca postal authorities. The time taking to fix them is often more than a month. The boxes located on private property are the problem of the resident or property owner.
Federal penalties for mail theft differ greatly from the California State statutes that see it as a misdemeanor with up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine. Since the Post Office is a federal entity, Postal inspectors refer to the U.S. Code 18, Section 1708 which sees mail theft as a felony with up to five years in a federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines.
Under California voters’ passage of Proposition 47, theft can be often dealt with only a citation for the suspect rather than him seeing any jail time with him being released on his own recognizance.
Anyone knowing of mail theft is urged to call the Manteca Police Department at 209.823.2101 or the Manteca Post Office.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email firstname.lastname@example.org.