Mailbox theft at 906 N. Doheny Drive
Mayor Lindsey Horvath is reaching out to federal representatives, post office managers and local residents in response to the seemingly unending series of break-ins into WeHo apartment buildings and mailboxes that now appears to be gang-related. WEHOville readers have reported 21 such break-ins to date.
Horvath explained the action she has taken in an email message yesterday to City Manager Paul Arevalo and other city employees, to members of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station and to a resident of 906 N. Doheny Dr., which has suffered two such breakins.
“I have written to the managers of our local post office locations, as well as Congressman Schiff, about these incidents and requested that master keys be changed. Congressman Schiff wrote back, confirming he requested that change on our behalf from the Post Office (since it’s their issue & not something the Sheriffs can do).
“Council support staff received a call from the person at the Post Office who is responsible for mail theft, asking for a meeting with me. She claims she has also asked for the keys to be changed. At this point, I’m doing all I can to expedite that meeting and figure out who is actually going to follow through on all this direction that’s being given. I am deeply frustrated & am so sorry any resident has had to endure this experience, but especially my friends.”
The keys to which Horvath refers give mail carriers entry to apartment and condo buildings and also unlock the panels that cover individual mailboxes. Thieves apparently have obtained those keys or copies of them. The city of West Hollywood has no direct control over the local post office, which is part of a the federal U.S. Postal Service.
A resident of 906 North Doheny told WEHOville that Brian Hoepner, the crime analyst at the Sheriff’s station, told him that the break-ins appear to be organized by a crime ring that has access to post office master keys. That crime ring pays the various individuals who have appeared in apartment mailroom videos to steal the mail, Hoepner said. Those individuals then take the mail to the gang leaders. Hoepner reportedly said at least 14 people have been arrested in the mail thefts. Hoepner did not return a call from WEHOville for more information about the situation and those arrested.
Lt. Sergio Aloma, the acting captain at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, said his representatives would be happy to meet with the homeowners association at 906 North Doheny to discuss crime prevention measures. Aaron Micu, a resident of that building, said he hopes to organize such a meeting in January.
The US Postal Inspection Service, which has been reluctant to disclose information about the mail thefts and what it is doing about them, has not responded to a request for information from WEHOville. The questions that WEHOville posed to the inspection service are as follows:
— Our readers have identified 21 thefts in recent months in West Hollywood. What number has the USPS identified?
— Sources in the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station say these thefts are the work of an organized gang that pays individuals to commit the break-ins and then deliver the mail to the gang. Does USPS have any evidence that this is true? Is this gang operating outside of West Hollywood? If so, where?
— Several of our readers have said that the USPS has said it will replace master locks. Has that been done in West Hollywood in the past six months? If so, at how many buildings? How does the USPS decide which master locks to replace?
— Apparently the thieves either have obtained keys or copies of keys to master locks or in some cases have stolen locks themselves and had keys made for them. What steps is the USPS taking to ensure that these keys are properly secured and accounted for?