And residents are expressing concern because the incidents are happening in broad daylight, with vandals oblivious to being caught and the damage they cause to victims.
These are some of the official reported incidents:
- Mail Tampering: 6:25 p.m. Dec. 10 on Shannon Road
- Mail Theft: 10:16 a.m. Dec. 20, 2013 on Serena Vista Court, a check was forged after it was stolen from a resident's mailbox.
- Mail Tampering: 8:35 a.m. Dec. 21, 2013 on Zena Avenue, a citizen reported the theft of mail from a residential mailbox
- Mail Tampering: 1:04 p.m. Dec. 23, 2013 on Del Cerro Court, a woman reported a suspect(s) broke into her mailbox
- Mail Tampering: 2:29 p.m. Jan. 1 on Gum Tree Lane
- Mail Theft: 2:14 p.m. Jan. 7 on Francis Oaks Way
Residents in the Los Gatos Mountains have also been reporting finding large piles of mail dumped off the side of rural roads and mailbox vandalism.
The residents have been delivering the stolen mail found to Los Gatos U.S. Post Office locations.
One vandalism incident in the Mountains involved thieves smashing several mailboxes' locks.
And one bag of stolen mail found reportedly weighed 35 pounds and the mail contained important documents such as checks, tax papers, credit card statements, Christmas cards and pictures.
Mail theft, according to Mountain residents, is a big problem in their area.
Several have paid for a post office box in the downtown Los Gatos area and have no mail service delivered to their home.
Other Mountain residents pay to have a secure mailbox at the Redwood Estates Post Office location. The cost for one is $54 a year.
Those who have been victimized recommend other residents do the same or purchase heavy duty locked mail boxes for their homes.
Many now completely avoid sending checks in the mail and pay for bills online or use their banks' bill paying service.
Others recommend putting a vacation hold on mail when going out of town, while others are beginning to heed local cops' advice to install video surveillance cameras on their properties.
Rural area mailboxes are vulnerable to vandalism because they are usually isolated, located on public thoroughfares, and frequently not visible to the box owners from their homes, according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Town residential mailboxes are vandalized to a lesser degree.
Mailboxes are considered federal property, and federal law makes it a crime to vandalize them (or to injure, deface or destroy any mail deposited in them).
Violators can be fined up to $250,000, or imprisoned for up to three years, for each act of vandalism.
Postal Inspectors recommend these actions to protect mailboxes and any mail that may be inside them:
- Immediately report theft, tampering or destruction of mail or mailboxes to your postmaster. You’ll be asked to complete PS Form 1510, Mail Loss and Rifling Report, or PS Form 2016, Mail Theft and Vandalism Complaint. The forms help the Postal Inspection Service determine whether your problem is isolated, or one frequently experienced in your neighborhood.
- Obtain Label 33 from the Postal Inspection Service and affix it to your mailbox. The sticker warns that willful damage to mailboxes and theft of mail are crimes.
- Keep your mailbox in good repair, and make sure it’s properly installed. This may help prevent theft of the mailbox itself.
- If you have information on mailbox vandalism, call the Postal Inspection Service to report it. Your cooperation helps apprehend violators.
- You may provide your information or complaints to your local postmaster or your nearest Postal Inspector.
To file a mail theft complaint with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, please click here.
To file a crime report with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office, please click here.
To file a crime report with the LGMSPD, please click here.
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