Another cluster mail box was found emptied of more than half of its contents Monday morning near the corner of Atherton Drive and Bishop Avenue.
The theft was discovered by a resident looking for her mail in the 12-box unit.
Melody Howell said a neighbor informed her that the cluster mail boxes mounted on a tower had been opened yet again and mail stolen sometime over the weekend. She said he told her he had lost three motor vehicle DMV year stickers for his license plate in separate thefts in recent months.
“I had checked our box at 11a.m. and noticed the entire tower was slightly ajar. I opened the whole thing and it was mostly empty,” she said. “Someone is becoming very brazen in their thefts and the Post Office has reportedly told one neighbor he should wait at noon for his mail. Frustrating!”
Manteca Police Sergeant Jody Estarziau said an average of two mail theft reports a week have been made over the past year where identity theft is suspected to be the motivation. The postmistress at the Manteca Post Office referred questions to a public information officer in Sacramento who referred concerns to the chief postal inspector Jeff Fitch in San Francisco.
Police records of mail thefts in Manteca dating back to January number 75 reports of missing items from residential and commercial boxes in the community. One report on May 10 to the police department noted that an unknown amount of missing mail included a possible credit card statement.
Fitch said his federal department is conducting an investigation into the Manteca area thefts and suspects a counterfeit key was used in opening the boxes. The Manteca woman who found her box opened Monday morning said she found no pry marks and also suspected someone was using a key.
Fitch said the cluster boxes that are used both for single family residences and apartment complexes range from 12 to 30 mail boxes. He noted that mail theft is a federal crime and carries a large fine and jail time if a suspect is convicted of mail theft.
He urged anyone with information leading to the conviction of a suspect may be eligible to receive a $10,000 reward saying the federal government doesn’t take the theft of mail lightly. He asked that the public use the department’s 24 hour phone number to advise the Postal Inspectors’ office of thefts any time day or night. Call 877.876.2455 especially if bank statements or credit card accounts have been compromised by mail theft. Fitch noted that his department has an office in Stockton where agents are ready to serve the Manteca area.
“It’s the reporting of thefts that makes a difference,” he said. “Get license numbers from suspect vehicles.”