Mail thieves ransacked between 80 and 100 mailboxes in Stevenson Ranch early Friday morning, provoking some residents to stop mail delivery until they install locked mailboxes.
About 1 a.m. Friday, thieves apparently drove down at least four streets on the western periphery of Stevenson Ranch, where homes back onto a wilderness tract, and looted mailboxes.
The streets hit were on Wallace Place, Wyatt Lane, Kendall Lane and Brooks Circle.
“I went out to get my mail because I didn’t check my mail the day before and found my mailbox flipped open.”
When she looked down her street, she said, the doors of all the mailboxes were open.
“They apparently went down one side and up the other opening mailboxes and stealing the mail,” said the woman who did want her name published.
The intrusion provoked the woman to contact the United States Postal Service to stop delivery of her mail – at least until she can purchase and install a locked mailbox.
When the woman asked her U.S. postal delivery person about the thefts, she said; “The delivery girl told me all these (four) streets were hit and that there was random mail scattered all over.”
Stacy Crane, spokeswoman for the United States Postal Inspection Service, who told The Signal six months ago that mail theft in the SCV was “running rampant” said the rate of that particular crime is only expected to increase as the holiday season approaches.
When asked about residents switching to locked mailboxes, she said: “We (U.S. Postal Service) recommend them.”
Crane urges anyone interested in switching from the unlocked flag-up/flag-down mailbox to a locked mailbox to visit the U.S. Postal Service website for a list of recommended locked mailboxes.
Some of the locked mailboxes cost about $100 but often include installation, she said.
“The locked mailboxes are just the same as a lock for the front door of your house,” Crane said.
“With the holiday season approaching, there will be more thieves out there taking advantage of unsecured mail,” she said. “Don’t leave packages out in the open.”
In April, Crane told The Signal: “Mail theft is running rampant. We need to harden the target.”
By “hardening the target,” Crane means protecting your mailbox.
“You have to make the target – your mailbox – harder for thieves to get at,” she said. “If you have a lock on your mailbox and your neighbor doesn’t they’re going to go to your neighbor’s mailbox.”
Aside from money being stolen directly, the very real fear behind mail theft is identity theft, Crane said.
Mail theft carries with it the possibility, she said, that thieves could exploit personal information about someone gleaned from the details in the stolen mail, then create fraudulent accounts set up to siphon money from the victim.
Many suspected victims of mail theft receive a letter from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service alerting them to the possibility their mail may have been stolen.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt