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FILE PHOTO/DESERT DISPATCH
A drop box outside the post office is taped up July 17. Authorities said Friday investigation is ongoing into earlier reports of mail theft from the outside boxes.

Mail theft investigation ongoing

Authorities look into reports of stolen mail at post office drop boxes

SENIOR STAFF WRITER

BARSTOW • Authorities continue to investigate earlier reports of mail theft at drop boxes outside the Barstow post office.

Stacia Crane, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service — the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service — said Friday that no new reports of mail theft had been received but was unaware that the drop boxes have remained sealed since last month.

In July, Crane said the inspection service had heard a few customer complaints from locals “saying their mail had been taken at the boxes.”

Around July 17, the openings to the drop boxes were covered up with a taped note asking customers to drop off mail inside.

Crane had said that authorities were operating under the assumption that one or more people had been “fishing” for mail — a practice where one uses some type of string with a sticky substance at its end to pull out mail.

Local Thomas Gutierrez called the Desert Dispatch last month and said an official at the post office confirmed “fishing” was the problem. Attempts at the time to reach postmaster William Mayfield were not successful.

Donna Weber told the Desert Dispatch last month that she noticed the boxes were taped up temporarily in June. She also claimed that mail which she sent to her daughter during that time arrived late and opened.

Crane said Friday that locals who have real concerns about the safety of their mail should contact authorities.

“If they feel that their mail was stolen or compromised, they do need to report it to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service,” she said.

She also asked for the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity.

Mail theft is a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 or visit http://postalinspectors.uspis.gov to report stolen or compromised mail.

Contact the Barstow Police Department at 760-256-2211 or the National Law Enforcement Communication Center at 877-876-2455 (option 2) to report suspicious activity.

Shea Johnson can be reached at SJohnson@DesertDispatch.com or 760-256-4126.


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