Mailbox theft victims want lasting solutions

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Stolen mail can mean big problems for victims, and some neighbors in North Austin say valuable information has been taken time and again.

U.S. Postal Inspector Mike Sullivan confirms a number of cases are under investigation in three zip codes: 78753, 78759 and 78727.

One homeowner in the Copperfield neighborhood, who asked not to be identified, says he’s been hit twice in the past few months. “You feel like you’re violated, like your neighborhood is being violated,” he said. “We’re dealing with a situation that’s totally out of control, and there’s no solution in sight.”

Terry Dossey lives nearby, and recently found suspicious tools near his mailbox. He believes thieves may have used them to get into mailboxes somewhere in the neighborhood.

“For the people that are getting checks in the mail, it’s a really big deal,” said Dossey. “And also outgoing mail is being stolen too.”

The postal service repairs the boxes, but doesn’t do much more than that as far as prevention, like installing lights or cameras to try to nab thieves. They say they’ll meet with HOAs dealing with thefts and can provide tips to better protect yourself. “People are being a lot more careful, but gosh, should we have to be that careful with our mail?” said one of the victims.

He believes the postal service is just putting a band-aid on the problems, and wants to see better solutions put into action.

“Every time they put a band-aid on it, people think that it’s secure and it’s not – and they just come through and steal all their mail again.”

Neighbors say they’ve been keeping track of the thefts through the Nextdoor app, and are able to communicate better what’s happening in the area.

Sullivan says the postal service is working with APD and Travis County to catch those responsible. Since Jan. 14, he says they’ve arrested six people for possession of stolen mail.

Tips from the Postal Inspector

  • Deposit outgoing mail in a blue collection box, at a Post Office, or by handing it directly to your letter carrier
  • Never leave mail in your mailbox overnight – that’s when thieves usually attack
  • If you see suspicious activity around your mailbox, call local police and postal inspectors

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