A rash of community mailbox thefts is afflicting Vancouver Island, says the RCMP.
“It’s a significant issue,” Nanaimo Const. Gary O’Brien said. “They target areas where there is hardly any foot traffic, late at night, where they can fade into the bushes.”
Thieves are hopeful they may find cash stuffed in the odd envelope, but increasingly their focus is on nabbing driver’s licences, credit cards and any other booty they can put to use for identity theft.
“After the fact, we’ll kick in a door and find – no word of a lie – a thousand pieces of ID,” O’Brien said.
Nanaimo is certainly not alone in this concern.
Cpl. Krista Hobday of Duncan/North Cowichan RCMP said the situation is the same in her community.
“It seems to be picking up speed. We were hit at four separate locations in the last week,” she said.
“Canada Post is conducting their own investigation parallel to ours. No concrete suspects at this time, but we always have a few on our radar for thefts like this.”
“The best way to protect yourself is to regularly pick up your mail,” O’Brien said. “And if you see something suspicious, report it immediately.”
Getting someone you trust to pick up your mail when you can’t and offering to make daily pickups for seniors and shut-ins are other ways to deter thieves.
Using registered mail or finding other alternatives for the delivery of valuable material should also be a consideration.
“What the public needs to be aware of is being more careful of what they send through the mail,” Don Varnadore, president of Local 786 of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (Ladysmith/Nanaimo/Parksville) said.
While realizing home delivery is not a practical option in all cases, Varnadore said it is the safest option.
Making sure community mailboxes are in the most brightly lit, high-traffic areas available is also important.
“The more visible you can make those, the better chance you have,” he said. “Those superboxes, they are just red flags waving ‘come and get me.’”