Mailbox vandalism plagues post office

Mailboxes across Austin have become a big target for thieves.

Mailboxes across Austin have become a big target for thieves.

The break-ins are so common that the post office is having trouble replacing them.

In the Wells Branch area, neighbors report more than 20 mailbox break-ins since December of 2015.

The post office points out this problem is happening city-wide and says they just received a new shipment of cluster boxes that they hope to install next week.

From reports as far south as Circle C to north Austin cluster mailboxes in Gracy Farms, neighbors say they've found facades torn off and their mail missing.

"It also happens at certain times of the month when people know checks are being delivered or they are looking for credit cards that they can somehow take over the account," said Mike Howe.

Howe is President of The Lake at Wells Branch HOA and claims he's been dealing with the problem for more than a year.

"They're fairly flimsy and they're easy, you can break into them," he added.

Howe says the thefts happened in three locations since June 15.

On Merilltown Drive, on Gaylord Drive on July 6, and on the heavily traveled Klattenhoff Drive on July 14.

Howe wants to replace old boxes with newer ones in every cluster in the neighborhood.

The post office could not confirm reports of specific vandalism but acknowledges the uptick.

"They've actually been very good about responding locally in trying to make us understand that they don't necessarily have the funding to replace or put better boxes in," said Howe.

The post office tells KVUE that each 16 unit cluster box, including parts and labor, cost about $1,000 to replace.

Howe says there have been discussions that the post office isn't ultimately responsible for repairs or replacements so he's exploring their options, even contacting an approved vendor.

Howe would like to see a plan on paper to help prevent further break-ins because the "wait and see and hope you catch someone" plan isn't working.

"I have cameras looking out from my house but not at my mailbox", he said. "Because it's up the street from here."

Postal Inspector Stephanie Houston told KVUE some of these thieves do get caught, most often when multiple neighbors call in with tips and leads.

She added the best way to avoid your mail being stolen, is to pick it up every day or request the post office hold it if you'll be out of town.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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