Mail theft victim sparks probe by postal service

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A local victim of mail theft, frustrated over inaction to correct a problem he says is out of control in the Santa Clarita Valley, fired off an angry email to postal officials that convinced them to investigate his case.

Chris St. Germaine sent an email to officials at the US Postal Service Wednesday morning and, by Wednesday afternoon, received a visit from a US Postal Inspection Service – the policing arm of the US Postal Service.

“I feel good,” Germaine told The Signal afterward.

“It’s great to put out an email and get a response,” he said. “Because mail theft in the Santa Clarita Valley is out of control right now.”

His email struck a nerve with the postal service.

“I have been told by many law enforcement officers and postal workers that mail theft is a large problem in The Santa Clarita Valley, and it has become obvious that both parties are deliberately and actively allowing it to happen,” he said.

His email reads, in part:

“One day, in January, our packages went missing, probably for the tenth time in the last year.

“We have largely ignored it, and simply had the packages re-delivered as our previous attempts at working with our local USPS office have proven unproductive and infuriating.

“This, however, was my last straw. As a teacher I was off on break, had a little extra time on my hands, and decided to finally get to the bottom of this.

“After two days of trying, I was finally able to speak with someone at the local office who ‘investigated’ the incidents and spoke with our carrier.

“After a careful and thorough study, the USPS official told me that their findings were “your mail just gets stolen a lot.” I obviously called the USPS Inspector General.

“After over a week of being on the phone with those inspectors, I was told effectively the same exact thing. Apparently someone has the master key, and can just go mailbox to mailbox and steal everyone’s mail.

“This has been happening for a few years now, they know about it, and will change the locks when they get around to it; they are currently in Bakersfield.”

Germaine’s personal story of having mail stolen from his home is one of several to have come to the attention of postal officials since the close of last year.

Mail for local businesses on Centre Pointe Parkway in Santa Clarita was stolen Feb. 2. Jana Adkins/The Signal

A week ago, on Feb. 2, a medical office on Diamond Place, off of Centre Pointe Parkway, notified deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station that mail had been stolen from their locked mailbox compartment inside a neighborhood delivery box unit (NDBU).

Thieves have targeted several NDBUs set up in industrial areas of the Santa Clarita Valley, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen checks.

In response to specific reports of business mail stolen from businesses on the Centre Pointe Parkway late January, a spokeswoman for the US Postal Inspection Service said SCV postal officials are making changes.

“The thieves are using counterfeit keys and for that reason the Santa Clarita Post Office is changing out the mailboxes for more high security locks,” Stacia Crane, spokeswoman for the US Postal Inspection Service told The Signal two weeks ago.

“The Post Office in Santa Clarita is very involved in changing those locks,” she said at that time.

Asked Wednesday if there were any updates regarding changes being made to protect mail, Crane said “no” and added that changes were still being carried out.

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