If you’ve been waiting for a letter that just never arrived, it might not be the fault of the U.S. Postal Service.
Residents across the city have been reporting incidents of mail theft, both incoming and outgoing mail, and the Springfield police department agree there has been a recent increase in the crime.
On the neighborhood social media network Nextdoor, almost every neighborhood in the city is reporting incidents of mail theft. Neighbors have been sharing descriptions of the thieves and one woman actually posted video of a thief.
The woman had placed a package full of cat droppings in a box inside the envelope to trap the package thief on camera. She reported that he fled with the box full of excrement, much to the delight of her neighbors.
Another woman reported that a mail thief had broken the lock she placed on her mailbox.
The U.S. Postal Service is aware of the problem and is asking area residents to report mail theft to them as well as their local police departments. The Postal Service website has a page specifically for mail theft reporting.
The USPS and local officials encourage residents to avoid putting outgoing mail into their residential mailbox. They recommend that if you are able to use a postal service drop box for outgoing mail, to take advantage of that service.
The Springfield Police Department has also posted a website to help residents combat mail theft. They list the following suggestions for residents in combating the crime:
- Do not leave outgoing mail in your unlocked mailbox.
- Deposit mail in a blue collection box or inside your local post office. Do not leave mail in a collection box that is full.
- Make sure your home mailbox is in good condition. Mail that is exposed can be damaged by bad weather and is visible to thieves.
- Promptly pick up your incoming mail after it is delivered.
- Get together with neighbors and the Postal Service and arrange for the installation of locked group mailboxes for neighborhood delivery. These are known as Neighborhood Delivery and Collection Box Units (NDCBU). Each address has an individual locked unit for delivery and collection. A minimum of 7 neighbors is needed to sign a petition requesting an NDCBU.
- Purchase a locked mailbox or convert your unlocked box to the lockable type. Make sure the mail slot is large enough for the letter carrier to insert your mail. The letter carrier cannot pick up mail from this type of box.
- Arrange for your mail to be delivered to a Post Office box for a small fee.
- Have regular income checks deposited electronically into your bank account via direct deposit.
- Promptly contact the senders if you do not receive credit cards, checks, or other valuable mail.
- Notify the post office and mailers if you change your address. When going on vacation, have the post office hold your mail or have a trusted friend or neighbor pick up your mail after delivery.
- Be observant of activities on your street, including those near your letter carrier, the postal vehicle, residential mailboxes, and collection boxes.
- If you see suspicious persons or activity, call 911 while the suspects are still present.