Opinion: Poor Management Is the Apparent Reason Behind WeHo’s Mailbox Thefts

It seems everyone is talking about mailbox burglaries in West Hollywood except for the U.S. Postal Service.

As WEHOville has reported, there have been a number of burglaries in recent weeks in which thieves apparently use a “master key” or “arrow key” from the local Post Office to enter lobbies of apartment and condo buildings and then open all of the mailboxes and cart away the mail.

One risk is that local residents might miss a check or something else of value in the mail. But Sgt. Richard Bowman of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station notes that a bigger risk is identity theft. By getting access to personal mail — credit card and bank statements, Social Security statements, etc. — thieves have information they can use to make illegal credit card charges or possibly make wire transfers from bank accounts.

The Sheriff’s Station is working with postal inspectors to investigate the thefts (Bowman said a couple of people actually were arrested four or five weeks ago when they were spotted with other people’s mail in their hands). WEHOville has been unable to get accurate information on how many recent thefts have occurred, but it is clear that there have been at least three and maybe as many as 18 in the past month or two. One of them was captured by a condominium video camera. Other photos from security cameras make clear that multiple people are involved in the thefts.

WEHOville has asked the U.S. Postal Inspector’s Office to explain how these thefts can happen and what the Postal Service intends to do to prevent them in the future. The answer from Stacia Crane of the Postal Inspection Service: “The investigation is progressing, but we can’t release any details at this time.”

So we’ve done our own research, which makes clear that the problem is poor management of the local post offices, which has been documented in other situations. Owners of multi-family buildings are required to install group mailboxes that can be accessed with a master key that also can be used to gain access to a bank of individual mailboxes in a building’s lobby or mailroom. Such master keys are supposed to be kept in a lock box at the local post office. A postal carrier signs in for his key when he begins his delivery round and is supposed to keep the key attached to his body on a chain. When the postal worker returns from his route, he is supposed to return the master key to a lock box at the Post Office. Apparently that isn’t happening. Whether an individual master key gives access to all multi-unit mailboxes in a particular ZIP Zone or only to those on a particular carrier’s route is unclear from the information we have found. That’s another question the Postal Service has declined to answer.

So what can residents of multi-unit buildings in West Hollywood do? Sgt. Bowman suggests removing your mail as early as possible each day, noting that the thefts appear to be occurring late at night. But the real solution — one the City of West Hollywood and its City Council should push for — is to have the U.S. Postal Service immediately replace master key locks in all buildings served by carriers who cannot produce their master keys for inspection or who are known to have lost such keys. Residents who can document theft of their mail or identity theft because of illegal use of master keys might also consider bringing civil suits against the Post Office to force it to act.

The U.S. Postal Service has a growing reputation for poor service and incompetence. We shouldn’t have to pay for it.

0 0 votes
Article Rating

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

11 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Nick
Nick
4 years ago

This might be the reason that some of my packages might’ve gone missing in the past. The post office in Beverly Hills, located at 325 N Maple Dr., has the mail routed from West Hollywood station. Also, the postal clerk (Asian woman) that works at the package window always wants to know what’s in my packages. I find this attitude very suspicious. I’ve also noticed in the underground parking a car taking down the license plate of the parked vehicles. Law enforcement should really look into the Beverly Hills postal station because there might be a connection.

Ralph
Ralph
5 years ago

Disgusting. Answer your F*&%ng phones. REALLY?? 25 minutes and still counting- waiting for someone to pick up.

Wesley McDowell
Wesley McDowell
6 years ago

Kim, I use that post office (Cole), too and completely agree with you. The people that worked there were a little cranky, but at least were helpful and knew the customers. These new people don’t give a $%@~. One day I wanted to buy stamps with cash. They only had a few stamps and no change for cash transactions. And on top of that, they can’t even find packages when you give them the yellow card. The best thing that could happen would be to close both Cole and Doheny stations and combine in a new location near the center… Read more »

kim jonas
kim jonas
6 years ago

the post office @ Fairfax & Norton is a complete s–t show, two long term employess gwen and Yvette were the best but the got tired of the crap and transferred to Inglewood. their replacements are a bunch of angry overweight slugs, they even disconnected the door bell for the po box people so you now you have to go inside and wait in line…the new ones don’t even put the yellow notification cards in the po boxes to let you know you have a package…service has so deteriorated while box prices keep going up…

J
J
6 years ago

My mail was stolen from our apartment box about a month ago resulting in the theft of a new ATM card and then a series of fraudulent charges posted to my bank account. I contacted the post office and filed a case via the website as directed. I received a reply from the local postmaster that said: “Unfortunately, an occasional piece of mail may fail to reach its destination.Reports of mail loss greatly concern us. Regrettably, when such instances are brought to our attention, there is no sure way of determining what may have happened. With the large volume of… Read more »

Disco Dan
Disco Dan
6 years ago

I’ve had a mailbox at my local post office for about 25 years. Virtually ALL my mail goes to that POB and any problem has been extremely rare. The only difficulty is when you get that yellow card that a delivery has been made that won’t fit in your box and you have to go to a employee to pick it up may translate into a long wait on line. I also use Stamps.com and print all my postage at home. These methods have saved me countless hours and potential hassles with the USPS.

LVN
LVN
6 years ago

I had 2 items taken in May, and other residents in my building in July. ( De Longpre Ave., 90069) I had assumed it was just the usual incompetence of the USPS since the closure of “West Station” and 90069 being routed through 90048 (Nightmare!), until our buildings management posted pictures of someone breaking into our USPS boxes in early July. I wonder where these thieves obtained Pass Keys, and Master Keys?? Clearly they came from somewhere inside USPS “Bicentennial Station” 90048 down on Beverly Blvd.

Brian
Brian
6 years ago

Sadly same story here. At least 10 packages over the years were “delivered” but were nowhere to be found. Got the same run around from the Post Office. They said I could file a complaint and a postal inspector would look into it and call me if they found anything. Never to be heard again. I tell anyone sending me something to use Fed Ex or UPS. Forget the USPS. Companies that use USPS for delivery of on line shopping are paying for it since they’ve had to replace what was lost every time it’s happened. Maybe they will stop… Read more »

Alison
Alison
6 years ago

This isn’t a new problem. Between the years 2010-2012, I had 8 packages disappear before they were even delivered to me. I followed their tracking and all was fine until they reached Los Angeles. Then they disappeared. I went to the Cherokee station to report each one and was given the run around. I even filed with the Postal Inspector. Nothing ever happened. I contacted the website I purchased from and they were kind enough to refund me for the first one or two, but after that, they said it was my problem. I lost money on 6 purchases because… Read more »

Z
Z
6 years ago

My housemate had several packages stolen around 4-6 months ago. Neighbors would ask if he retrieved his packages down at the mail room. He would go and there would be nothing. Neighbors would tell him there were packages there for you a few hours ago? This happened at least 4 different times. He would contact post office, and they would basically tell him: I don’t know what to tell you? If tracking says we delivered it, we delivered it. In other words, passing the buck or simply having no recourse for the lost/stolen packages. I have all my statements to… Read more »

Neal Z.
6 years ago

The level of incompetence in the local branches of the USPS is prolific. This is but one example. While not a security concern like the thefts, the carrier who serves our street absolutely refuses to come to the doors of the residents in my small building to deliver certified letters and parcels. Routinely, the carrier will simply leave the salmon-colored pick up slip in our malboxes, requiring us to trek down to the post office (which for 90046 is all the way over at Cherokee), and wait on a usually-out-of-control line to get our letters and packages – without even… Read more »

Click to Hide Advanced Floating Content

0 0 votes
Article Rating
11
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x