Thefts From Mailboxes

At the end of this post, please find a link to a DNA Info article about a common and harmful crime:  Checks being stolen from blue sidewalk mailboxes.

Although the thefts documented in the article were committed in one section of Manhattan, it’s a national problem.

Unfortunately, many people can’t avoid using an outdoor mailbox on the rare occasions when they still send something through the U.S.P.S.  If nothing else, try to deposit mail before the last collection time.  Then, it shouldn’t sit there overnight.  If you believe a check or other delicate item has disappeared in transit, contact your bank or other appropriate institution.  You may be able to get advice on minimizing the damage.

I live near the Civic Center in San Francisco, so I have access to the post office at Fox Plaza.  It’s necessary to walk a few blocks to get there, but keeping outgoing mail safer than it would be outside is worth the time and effort.  We also have an indoor mail drop in my condo complex.  Although there have been no reports of trouble with the mail drop, recently I’ve hesitated to use it for reasons described in the next paragraph.

There’s also a problem with items being stolen from residential mailboxes.  Even locked mailboxes in so-called secure apartment building lobbies are at risk, so there aren’t easy answers.  Earlier this year, one of my neighbors took the elevator down to the lobby and found a stranger taking others’ mail.  He couldn’t detain her, but the accidental meeting may have stopped her from stealing as much as she had planned on taking.

It isn’t unheard of for a thief to have a copy of a master key with access to locked residential mailboxes covering an entire zip code.

If possible, plan ahead for mailing checks or other items with sensitive information.  Then just hope you receive all of the mail that’s sent to you.  Besides the residential thefts, I understand people have broken into those sidewalk relay boxes where the letter carrier picks up mail before delivering it.


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