Instead of dropping off the mail, Barry Harrison is marking a spot as undeliverable.
It’s one of a growing number of cluster mailboxes in Natomas that have been pried open and cleaned out by thieves.
“It’s obnoxious. These people are infringing on our privacy. They’re infringing on our rights, stealing our information and trying to make money out of it,” said Jesus Arrendondo.
Arrendondo is the neighborhood watch leader for 926 households in Natomas’ Westlake subdivision.
Due to the ongoing investigation, postal inspectors wouldn’t say how many boxes have been hit.
Over the last few days, members of Arrendondo’s group have heard from their carriers that as many as five have been damaged a night.
Few thieves realize the possible consequences of their actions.
“They have no clue. They don’t know that it holds up to a five-year sentence and up to a $250,000 fine. It’s a federal offense to steal the U.S. mail,” said Postal Inspector Troy Dickinson.
Right now, Dickinson says thieves are looking for checks or tax documents with the kind of personal information that can get them quick cash for drugs.
“They need to steal the mail to find their meth,” he said.
Neighbors want to make it clear stealing from them, for that is unacceptable.
“This neighborhood is on the lookout. Our eyes and ears are open,” said Arrendondo.
Postal inspectors say one way to protect yourself against this kind of crime is to resist the urge to use the convenient outgoing mail slot right in your neighborhood.
Take your outgoing mail all the way to the post office.