Mailbox break-ins anger Mat Su residents

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WASILLA, Alaska (KTUU) - You've probably heard of the Mail Carriers' Creed. It says, "Neither rain, nor snow, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.''

photo courtesy Kimberly Welch

Apparently, the same can be said about mailbox thieves in the Mat Su.

The Facebook group "Stop Valley Thieves" has been buzzing over the past few days with reports on break-ins at so called "cluster boxes" - centralized mail boxes that serve entire neighborhoods.

People living in the Inlet View neighborhood experienced it first hand this week, when someone apparently used a crowbar to attempt to pry open the community mail box.

"It makes me angry," said resident Rob Patinka. "A lot of people in this neighborhood are getting fed up."

There's also the cost involved. "The boxes alone can cost anywhere from $1,400 to $1,700 a piece. And that's not including shipping to Alaska," said Kimberly Welch, a member of the Inlet View Owners Association.

Residents are also angry about the invasion of their privacy. "You get your mail out here; otherwise, you have to go to town. And now to know somebody's trying to break in and get my stuff? Yeah, that's mine - that's not yours. That's not for you. That has nothing to do with you," said resident Marta Halliburton.

Alaska State Troopers spokesperson Megan Peters said AST has gotten about 20 reports of mailbox break-ins, during the past three months in the Settlers Bay and KGB Road areas.

"The best thing to do is to make sure that we're notified," said Jacob Gholson with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service office, in Anchorage. "What we need is for people to contact the post office directly. Make sure that the post office is aware of it, especially... if the carrier may have already delivered the mail," Gholson said. "If it happens in the evening, make sure that the post office is notified as quickly as possible, so if there is any unsecured mail, we can go out and recover that." He also suggested reporting thefts to local police.

Also, Gholson says to notify postal inspectors, if you know that any gift cards or checks have been stolen. Those items are traceable, and may lead back to the mailbox thieves.

To report mailbox thefts, you can reach the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at this toll-free number: 1-877-876-2455.

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