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Mailbox theft rampant in Langley

This stolen mail was found by police in an abandoned SUV that was crashed into a power pole in Brookswood last week. Langley RCMP warn that mail theft is rampant right now. - RCMP
This stolen mail was found by police in an abandoned SUV that was crashed into a power pole in Brookswood last week. Langley RCMP warn that mail theft is rampant right now.
— image credit: RCMP

Just a day after Langley RCMP warned residents that mail theft is rampant right now, police discovered a crashed truck full of stolen mail on Thursday morning.

Langley RCMP are warning residents that over the last month, neighbourhoods throughout the Langleys have been victimized by mailbox break-ins.

“This past Monday (Oct. 21) alone, 18 mailboxes were pried open and the mail items may have been stolen,” said Langley RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Holly Marks.

The thefts are happening both in apartment mailboxes and residential community mailboxes, she said.

Early Thursday morning, police were called to a crash where a  red 1991 Ford Lariat truck collided with a power pole in the 3200 block of 200 Street. The driver fled the scene. However, police found a large quantity of stolen mail around the truck.

Most of the stolen mail appears to be from Langley and Surrey, said police.

After being analyzed by forensics, the mail will be returned to Canada Post and redelivered with letters letting customers know what happened.

The truck was stolen in Abbotsford.

In the meantime, police are now warning the public to be on the look out for identify theft, and to watch credit card amounts and bank statements.

Mounties are also asking the public to be particularly vigilant and report suspicious people, vehicles or activity in their neighbourhood, especially in close proximity to mailboxes.

Langley RCMP Street Enforcement Unit is working closely with Canada Post and neighbouring police agencies to address the issue and identify the person(s) responsible.

“We recognize mail theft as being a significant problem throughout the Lower Mainland.  Langley’s property crime unit is fully engaged in trying to apprehend the offenders,” said Supt. Derek Cooke.  “I would strongly encourage Langley residents to ensure they retrieve their mail every afternoon and not allow it to accumulate for a lengthy period of time.”

Langley Township council wants to see community mailboxes made more secure and is sending that message to Canada Post.

Calling Canada Post community mailboxes “inferior” and “poorly designed” Councillor Steve Ferguson convinced a majority of Township council to back his campaign for improvements to the design of the grouped-together boxes, which have been installed in new residential areas in lieu of house-to-house delivery since 1985.

Ferguson said the mailboxes have become easy targets for break-ins.

“Mail theft, tampering and vandalism became a problem the day after the [first] community boxes were installed,” Ferguson said.

His written resolution, approved by a majority of council on Oct. 21, asks the post office to “put into place measures to make these community mailboxes secure from forced entry and theft”  and to consider adopting Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles to make the mailboxes less vulnerable.

CPTED, which is endorsed by the RCMP and other Canadian police forces, calls for a mix of “target hardening,” high-visibility environmental design, lighting and other measures to discourage criminals.

Ferguson told council he has been told the post office is considering steps to make the community boxes more theft-proof. However, a call to the customer service department of Canada Post said they hadn’t heard of a new, more secure boxes being installed anywhere.

Calls and emails made by The Times to Canada Post have not been returned.

There are more than 20,000 community mailboxes in B.C. serving one in four households.

Canada Post has said in the past that it holds no responsibility for its customers’ mail once it is delivered.

In the meantime, Langley RCMP would like to offer some prevention tips to minimize the opportunities for mail theft.  You should:

- Retrieve your mail as soon as possible after delivery. Don’t leave mail unattended in your mailbox overnight;

- If you’re planning a holiday, have someone retrieve your mail on a daily basis or for a small fee, Canada Post will hold your mail at the delivery office and deliver it upon your return;

- If you receive mail that is not yours, do not leave it in an unprotected area. Write delivered to wrong address or not at this address on the front of the envelope. Deposit the letter into an outgoing mail slot of a Canada Post mailbox at your earliest convenience;

- Check the physical security of your mailbox to ensure there are no gaps or damage;

- Report any suspicious activity to police. The RCMP works closely with Canada Post postal inspectors to combat mail and identity theft; and

-  If you see a damaged or overturned mailbox, contact Canada Post at 1-800-267-1177.

— with files from Dan Ferguson

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