ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Thieves have recently found their way into several locked mail boxes all across the city. It’s causing problems for a lot of people, especially those that can’t get around so well.
“It appears that somebody used a pry bar,” said Bob Trudo, a northeast Albuquerque resident. Two locked cluster mailboxes were broken into on his block back in December.
It’s the kind of mailbox break-in that’s been found again and again across Albuquerque.
“It’s not only identity theft that we’re worried about, we’re looking at the possibility of the elderly being shipped drugs for their medications,” Trudo explained.
His neighbors near Candelaria and Tramway haven’t been able to get their mail at home for weeks.
Residents on the block told KRQE News 13 their mailboxes were broken into and destroyed the day after Christmas.
Trudo said he thought the locked cluster boxes were safer than your average stand-alone mailbox. “In fact, there’s been a waiting list for all of these boxes for quite a while, because it was considered so secure,” said Trudo.
Tammy Fredenberg has lived in the area for 10 years. “We’ve never had a break-in like this,” said Fredenberg.
A note on the broken boxes tells users to pick up their mail from the post office, but that’s been tough she said, especially for elderly neighbors.
“It is hard for them to get out and have to drive to get their mail,” Fredenberg added.
Trudo said he was told the post office was waiting on parts. The day after News 13 called the USPS, mailboxes near Trudo’s home were being repaired.
But that hasn’t been the case for everyone. Cluster mailboxes near Paseo and Eubank were broken into last week. Neighbors there said they were even warned to lookout for thefts like this.
KRQE News 13 also spotted six broken cluster boxes in a southeast Albuquerque neighborhood. An officer was there taking a report.
There’s also been reported break-ins for mailboxes in the east mountains.
“That’s definitely scary,” said Nicholas Mata.
In one case, a downtown apartment complex built a shelter around their mailboxes because of the recent thefts. Residents now need a key just to get inside.
The local Postal Inspector told KRQE News 13 they have made some arrests. Mail theft is a federal offense, which carries up to five years for each count.
The US Postal Service said each cluster mailbox repair may take up to two weeks, and in some cases they’ll try and replace the old boxes with sturdier ones. Officials weren’t able to say just how many they’ve had to replace recently.
Some cluster boxes are owned by the USPS, and they are expensive to replace. A Postal Service worker told News 13 each one costs about $1,200.