Postal officials advise residents about how to avoid mail theftBy: Carol Percy, Reporter
Lincoln residents may have to change the way they use mailboxes, said two postal officials at a Feb. 26 community meeting.
More than 160 Lincoln Hills residents attended a meeting of the Lincoln Hills Community Association Board of Directors Feb. 26 to hear Lincoln Postmaster Mark Campbell and U.S. Federal Postal Inspector Jeffrey Fitch address the issue of community-wide mailbox break-ins. Due to the number of residents who asked to speak about mailbox incidents, Community Association Board Chair Ken Silverman moved up the item on the board’s agenda.
Lincoln Police officer Brent Craft, who attended the board meeting, said that mailbox break-ins have been a city-wide problem. Since last October, mailboxes have been broken into in Lincoln Hills, Twelve Bridges and “surrounding areas,” Craft said.
“The thefts have been happening at night, all days of the week. We are working with the postal inspector to identify the suspects,” Craft said.
In the last six months, Craft said, Lincoln police have documented 15 cluster mailbox break-ins in Lincoln Hills alone but more may have been listed under other crime headings such as petty theft or vandalism.
Thieves have taken checks, medications, packages and other mail, according to Craft.
At the Lincoln Hills Community Association board meeting Feb. 26, the postal officials fielded questions about the break-ins and took suggestions from residents that included installing video cameras near mailboxes, abandoning the mailboxes and returning to door-to-door delivery, changing mailbox locks and replacing mailbox clusters.
Currently, the Lincoln Hills community has 724 cluster mailboxes that service 6,783 homes, according to Silverman. Replacing the mailboxes would cost $1 million, he said.
Video cameras would be impractical since there are no qualified personnel available to check the results, according to Silverman.
Campbell said replacing the cluster boxes with door-to-door delivery was not an option because using cluster boxes was the delivery agreement that Del Webb made with the U.S. Postal Service when the community was founded.
Campbell also said that he would “look into locks” for the cluster boxes but the best way to go forward was to drop mail in secured U.S. mail blue boxes, at Raley’s mail center or at the Lincoln Post Office.
“The best thing for our residents is to be proactive,” Campbell said. “You are not going to stop the bad guys.”
Craft reminded residents to report suspicious persons or activities to the Lincoln Police Department at 645-4040.
To report mailbox fraud-related incidents, call the U.S. Postal Service 24-hour line at (877) 876-2455.