Thieves go 'postal,' cracking the locks on several WNC drop boxes
A warning after what's considered a safe way to mail your personal information is compromised.
Vandals broke into at least three of the U.S. Postal Service's blue curbside mailboxes in Buncombe and Henderson counties and failed to get into a fourth.
It’s a federal offense, punishable by five years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines. U.S. Postal Inspectors say, people typically trust these boxes more than the box in front of their homes. Typically, they're more secure, but, in this case, the metal was pried back and what was inside was stolen.
Usually, it's you dropping off your mail in the big blue curbside boxes, and postal carriers picking it up. Friday, U.S. Postal Service maintenance crews were picking up more than just mail after thieves pried their way into drop boxes, making their own heist of your information.
“People's got guts, especially a thief,” Sammy Moore said as he stopped by the Skyland Post Office to pick up his mail.
Overnight Thursday, vandals struck, not just in Flat Rock, but also in front of the Skyland Post Office on Hendersonville Road and in Biltmore Park.
“There's always security cameras everywhere, so you would think, but people who generally do that aren't really thinking,” said Susan Alich, who took the time to go to the post office to mail checks from her business.
With more people trying to crack your identity, you can't be too careful.
“That's the reason I have a post office box now. I have two different addresses, and one of the mailboxes gets hit with bats torn up, so I have a post office box to get all my important mail,” explained Moore.
Anything passed through the slots after 5 p.m. at the compromised boxes was likely stolen. Police recommend taking several steps.
“You can contact the police department at 828-252-1110 or you're welcome to come here to our building to report that,” said Asheville Community Resource Sr. Officer Justin Wilson.
You can also alert postal inspectors or credit monitoring agencies.
“And also contact the bank, at least, so they can put a stop to any accounts and at least be alerted that you suspect you have been compromised,” said Wilson.
The box in Flat Rock was broken into several months ago. The vandalized boxes will be replaced with new ones, promising more security with more narrow openings.
“I think something needs to be done about it, or get different boxes where they can't get into them,” said Moore.
This isn't a shut case. Postal inspectors will review surveillance cameras at several locations in hopes of catching the thieves. Replacing the boxes won’t be cheap. A new box costs about $800 to replace when they're vandalized. Anyone with information is urged to contact postal inspectors at 1-877-876-2455.