AUSTIN (KXAN) — Cases of thieves prying open mailboxes seem to happen in every neighborhood, and the crimes are picking back up heading into the holidays.
In the Sendera neighborhood in south Austin off Slaughter Lane, it’s been a vicious cycle. Last week, it only took thieves two days to destroy a set of replacement mailboxes that had already been hit once. Data from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service shows 11 break-ins of mailboxes were reported from Oct. 1 through Nov. 16 in the following zip codes: 78745, 78747, 78748, 78749.
Their neighborhood association asked the USPS to speak at their meeting Monday night to explain why it’s happening and what they’re doing to stop it. An undercover postal investigator explained it’s mostly drug addicts looking for cash, gift cards and checks they can forge and cash. He also said each mailbox unit can cost about $900 to replace.
After several mailbox clusters were broken into in the Ridge at Scofield Farms neighborhood in north Austin over the summer, the neighborhood’s HOA decided to spend more money to install more secure mailboxes. The HOA also added extra lighting and security cameras to deter any looking for a quick buck.
“Super glad, grateful that we do have these new, secure boxes,” said Allison Biesboer, who had her mail stolen. “I just thought, you know, that it was not a very neighborly thing to do.”
Earlier this year, the United States Postal Service launched a free service which allows people to see their mail before it arrives in their mailbox. Informed Delivery allows users to sign up for notifications about incoming mail and track packages.
Biesboer says ever since her mailbox was hit by thieves, her boyfriend has been checking the website daily.
The USPS says they are starting to install the sturdier group mailboxes in neighborhoods across Austin.
They also say it’s also a good idea to pick up your mail every day, and have shipments mailed to work or held at the post office.