VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Some neighbors in Clark County say they’ve seen a spike in mailboxes being broken in to. With more mail and packages being sent around the holidays, that has some on edge.
“It didn’t use to be this way,” said Barb Cabe of the Truman Neighborhood Association. Cabe, who lives just outside Vancouver city limits, says that within the last six months, mailboxes on her street have been broken in to three times.
“It’s nothing new, but it’s continually gotten worse. And it seems to be expanding throughout the county,” she said.
In most cases, it appeared that the thieves used some type of tool to manually pry open locked mail slots.
“The boxes have been jimmied, basically. It’s a real annoyance in that I have to get my mail really quickly,” said Richard Alvarez, who lives down the street from Cabe.
“My grandparents have gotten their medication stolen,” said Andrea Gettman, who lives next door. “It could cost him his life if it’s not there.”
Don Forman, who lives in East Vancouver, had his neighborhood mailbox broken in to as well. “I came out to the mailbox and about half the doors were standing open,” he said. Both Forman and Cabe said that Postal Service employees at local post offices told them that the problem was becoming somewhat prevalent in the Vancouver area. “Everybody was hit in our area, when I talked to our carrier,” Forman said.
Cabe says she was told by a local employee that “40 mailboxes that had been broken in to” around her neighborhood. “She said they are overwhelmed with break-ins. So I don’t know there’s a whole lot they can do,” Cabe said.
Adam Sale, a local US Postal Inspector, said that the agency hasn’t noticed anything unusual in terms of recent mailbox break-ins. He noted, however, that tracking such break-ins can be difficult because not all customers report them.
“Every mail/parcel theft is important to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and we investigate all that are reported to us,” Sale wrote in an email to KGW in late November. “The volume of thefts in the Portland Metro area are statistically small compared to the number of successful mail and parcel deliveries we make each day but, one theft is too many.”
Vancouver Police said that the department has seen an increase in mailbox break-ins, but directed further questions to the postal inspector. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office didn’t immediately return a call and email asking about the break-ins.
Some customers, like Cabe and her husband, have decided on other measures to keep their mail safe. “We’ve rented a box at the UPS store, because there’s no boxes at the post office. There’s a waiting list.”
“When I hear something at night - I don’t care what it is - I’ll get up and see if someone is messing around with the mailbox,” said Alvarez. “It feels like I’ve been robbed.”