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Shaved mailbox keys seized in arrest


On the heels of news this month of mailboxes being pilfered, mail stolen, mailboxes broken into and mail dumped into bags by identity thieves, now there’s a skeleton key of sorts to open all mailboxes.

Deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station arrested a 21-year-old man on suspicion of vandalism to mailbox or mail, a felony.

During the arrest, deputies found on his possession “shaved keys” that apparently open mailboxes, Lt. Brenda Cambra who oversees the station’s Detective Section, told The Signal Thursday.

“This was a man arrested for possessing shaved keys one of which appears to be able to open a mail box,” she said. “There was no mail found with it.”

Daniel Arthur Appleby, a Construction worker who lives in Canyon Country, was arrested Wednesday shortly before 1 a.m. on suspicion of vandalism to mailbox or mail.

His bail has been set at $20,000, according to arrest documents released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Shaved keys are legitimate keys that are ground down, according to a California detective who has written about them and has also seen them used for gaining access to mailboxes.

Corp. Dan Pasquale, of the City of Tracy Police Department, explained shaved keys this way when they are used to gain access to cars: “A shaved key looks just like it sounds, a key that’s been shaved or ground down on either the sides or the face.”

Pasquale said the same process is used in making shaved keys to open Mailboxes.

“It’s the same principle,” he told The Signal Thursday, reached at his office in Tracy.

“It’s modifying the configuration of the keys by shaving them down,” he said. “Shaving down the mailbox keys is little more involved, requiring more tools.”

Pasquale said older mailboxes require a “barrel key” which can also be shaved down.  “The are the circular type of key like you see used for lockers.”

“This is a widespread problem across California,” he said.  “We’ve actually got it (problem) here in Tracy,”

At the time of Wednesday’s arrest, inspectors with the US Postal Service were investigating three local incidents earlier this month of mass mail thefts including seven discarded garbage bags full of mail and the ransacking of two “neighborhood mailbox” units resulting in mail stolen from 40 Santa Clarita Valley businesses.

Also still being investigated is an incident in which mail thieves broke into a Neighborhood mailbox on Avenue Scott and stole mail from the mailboxes of 20 businesses.

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on Twitter @jamesarthruholt

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