Theft of mail in Manteca’s “community mail boxes” or cluster boxes mounted on residential sidewalks is picking up.
The Postal Service has deployed postal inspectors in Manteca and nearby communities that have been targeted as well in a bid to catch the culprits.
Manteca Postmaster Beverley Leymaster on Thursday noted between October and November there were 18 thefts reported. Since December the pace of thefts appears to be picking up prompting a stepped up coordinated effort between Manteca Police and postal inspectors.
The postmaster said Postal Service maintenance staff has been working hard to keep up with the demand to repair the damaged boxes so they can become a safe place to contain the nail. Workmen first go to the scene and install a metal plate on the box to keep it from being used until it can be repaired or replaced.
Leymaster noted that she called in all her carriers into the office on Thursday morning to discuss the problem. She asked them not to answer any questions they might be asked on the street by the public because the information being passed around by citizens is developing into word-of mouth-stories – most often wrong. She said she wants the public to know the actual facts to properly warn them of the situation.
She said that Stockton and Modesto offices have been hit hard by thieves recently. Those thieves now apparently are moving into Manteca to steal mail. When the community boxes are broken open, the new incoming mail stays in the post office where it can be picked up by the addressee.
Most of the thefts are occurring in the nighttime hours, she added. They are happening in clusters in separate neighborhoods such a Pin Oak Court and Cherry Oak Lane and also Woodward Avenue. Postal inspectors have been looking for active video surveillance cameras to help them identify the thieves, she said. Other thefts have occurred on Mission Ridge, Green View and Snead Court all at the same time.
Of special focus to the thieves is the outgoing mail receptacle where residents are placing their credit card and auto payments. Leymaster is asking customers to call the post office and report any damage to their boxes or the fact they are not receiving any mail they usually expect.
She also warned of “bad information” that people are putting on their social websites for others to see. She said the mail boxes in question are those mounted on sidewalks rather than those within apartment complexes.
The theft of mail is a federal crime that will be prosecuted if postal inspectors determine who is responsible in the damage to the boxes and theft of the mail.