USPS mail collection box stolen and recovered

By Linda Bentley | December 30, 2009

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A USPS collection box was stolen from this strip mall at 515 E. Carefree Highway.

Photo by Linda Bentley

Reward of up to $10,000 offered for information leading to arrest and conviction of those responsible
for the theft

DESERT HILLS – Sometime between the evening of Monday, Dec. 21 and the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 22, a United States Postal Service (USPS) blue collection box was stolen from a strip mall at 515 E. Carefree Highway.

Desert Hills resident Pattie Caspary called Sonoran News Tuesday morning to inform us about the mailbox being stolen and said she had just mailed cards with gifts to her children and grandchildren from that location on Monday evening. She said when her husband went by on his way to work on Tuesday morning to mail the last of their Christmas cards and gifts, the collection box was gone and there were just four anchor bolts sticking up out of the concrete with nuts and washers lying nearby. Caspary said her husband went to the gas station next door and called the police.

Caspary said she hopes they catch whoever stole the mailbox, citing she has previously been the victim of identity theft.

The women working at Desert Hills Mailbox at the opposite end of the little strip mall said they were unaware the box had been stolen until customers told them about it Tuesday morning.

One patron of Desert Hills Mailbox said several residential cluster mail boxes have also been stolen in the area. He said thieves don’t just break into them anymore, they remove the entire thing. He joked, “That way they can sit around and eat chips and dip while they figure out how to break it open.”

He then said, “That’s why I get my mail here,” and pondered mail delivery service soon becoming a thing of the past.

The stolen mailbox had a 1 p.m. collection time posted. However, the women at Desert Hills Mailbox said, on Monday afternoon, the mail was picked up closer to 2 p.m.

After the Postal Service installed a replacement collection box at that location on Wednesday, Dec. 23 it warned, “When depositing outgoing mail, customers should always check that day’s collection schedule posted on the receptacle and make sure mail is deposited before the last posted collection time.”

Mail theft is a violation of the U.S. Federal Criminal Code Title 18 and carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the theft.
Although the USPIS stated the collection box was recovered on Dec. 22 in a desert wash behind the strip mall with most of the outgoing mail still inside, it said customers who deposited mail in the box between 1 p.m. Monday and 1 p.m. Tuesday should complete a mail theft complaint form.

Anyone with information about the theft should call USPIS at 877-876-2455 or 602-223-3278.

According to Postal Inspector/ Public Information Officer Patricia Armstrong, six cluster boxes have been stolen in the area of 7th Street and Honda Bow Road between Dec. 3 and Dec. 8.

Armstrong said residents were notified and the boxes were replaced immediately. She said only one of those boxes has been recovered so far.

Additionally, Armstrong said, “All mail contained in the [collection] box when it was recovered was placed in the outgoing mail stream and sent to their intended destinations.”