Mail­box Van­dal­ism Be­com­ing Ram­pant

Escalon Times - - FRONT PAGE - By MARG JACKSON mjack­son@escalon­

Sev­eral times over the past few weeks, van­dals have bro­ken into NBUs, Neigh­bor­hood Box Units, in a num­ber of Escalon neigh­bor­hoods, look­ing to steal mail and any valu­ables they could find.

“It’s called a vol­ume at­tack be­cause it af­fects more than one in­di­vid­ual box,” Escalon Post­mas­ter Ken Cran­dal said of the mail theft and mail­box van­dal­ism. “They have dam­aged NBUs on Mission, Yosemite, Thad­deous and, most re­cently, on Jes­sica Cir­cle.”

The Jes­sica Cir­cle van­dal­ism oc­curred late last week and Cran­dal said it was the lat­est in a string of dis­rup­tive at­tacks.

The boxes are pried open and the mail gone through, he said. Escalon Po­lice have been no­ti­fied and are step­ping up their ef­forts in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, fol­low­ing up on some leads. De­tec­tive An­thony Hard­graves is the lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor in the case.

“Cal­i­for­nia, ac­cord­ing to a tele­con­fer­ence we had re­cently with Sacra­mento, has more mail theft than all the other states com­bined,” Cran­dal said.

In an ef­fort to help cus­tomers pro­tect them­selves, Cran­dal said the U.S. Postal In­spec­tion Ser­vice has is­sued some tips.

Use the let­ter slots in­side the Post Of­fice for mail or hand it to a let­ter car­rier for out­go­ing mail, as op­posed to putting it in the neigh­bor­hood box. Mail should be picked up promptly af­ter de­liv­ery; do not leave mail in the mail­box overnight. If you are away at the time of de­liv­ery, ar­range to have a friend or trusted neigh­bor pick up your mail.

Con­tact the is­su­ing agency im­me­di­ately if a check or item you are ex­pect­ing doesn’t ar­rive when an­tic­i­pated. Re­port all sus­pected mail theft to a Postal In­spec­tor.

Cran­dal said res­i­dents can also check with the lo­cal post of­fice for up to date reg­u­la­tions on mail­boxes.

The Neigh­bor­hood Box Units that were dam­aged will be re­placed and the cost for re­plac­ing the en­tire unit puts the mon­e­tary amount of the dam­age over the felony thresh­old, said Cran­dal.

“The boxes them­selves are $1,500 each and that makes it a felony,” he said. “We had boxes on Justin that were dam­aged about two years ago, then one on Cal­i­for­nia. The lat­est in­ci­dents make it six in my area. Now it’s per­sonal.”

While the neigh­bor­hood units are be­ing re­placed, Cran­dal said the post of­fice will hold the mail for res­i­dents and they also pro­vide them with a let­ter de­tail­ing the in­ci­dent and of­fer­ing some steps to take to pro­tect against iden­tity theft.

While mail theft is “ram­pant” in many ar­eas of the state, Cran­dal said it hasn’t been as bad here, but is start­ing to reach epi­demic lev­els.

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