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Feds investigating stolen post office boxes

Officials are unclear of the motive but warn of potential identity thefts.

July 13, 2011|By Mark Kellam, mark.kellam@latimes.com
  • The Magnolia Park Post Office in Burbank. (File photo)
The Magnolia Park Post Office in Burbank. (File photo)

Federal officials are investigating the theft of four 200-pound mailboxes that were bolted into concrete slabs in Glendale, Burbank and Pacoima in less than a week.

Authorities have no suspects and no way to tell how many customers were affected or who may now be vulnerable to identity theft, U.S. Postal Inspector Renee Focht said.

Most recently, a drive-up mail collection box was discovered missing July 2 at the Glendale post office at 6444 San Fernando Rd., Focht said. It’s not clear when the mailbox was stolen, but it was there when the post office closed the day before.

A similar collection box was stolen from the same postal facility sometime after the last pick-up at 1:30 p.m. on June 25, Focht said.

One drive-up mailbox was also stolen in an industrial area in Burbank at 7535 N. San Fernando Rd. overnight June 24 and at the Pacoima post office at 13507 Van Nuys Blvd. sometime between 3 p.m. June 25 and 10:30 a.m. June 27, officials reported.

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The thefts appear to be a “recent trend,” Focht said, adding that it was too early in the investigation to determine if they are related.

“That’s something we are taking into consideration,” she said.

Focht would not say if there were surveillance cameras at the postal facilities that were hit, citing security issues.

Concerned postal customers should contact their financial institutions immediately and check their credit reports, Focht added.

Tom Lorenz, a spokesman for Glendale, said all three credit agencies can place blocks on individual reports, so that “if anyone tries to apply for credit using your name and [personal information], they will be denied and you will be contacted.”

Customers who suspect their mail may have been stolen should contact anyone who was to receive a payment, said Glendale resident Tammi Relyea, who coordinated an identity theft workshop last year after she and her neighbors saw strangers going through trash bins outside their homes.

“If I had written a $500 check to someone, I would want to make sure that person got it,” she said.

After a mailbox theft — or any crime at a postal facility — officials said they post notices warning customers of the incident.

But as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, there were no fliers at the Glendale post office, where the manager said she had just received fliers about the July 2 theft and would post them on the sliding double doors.

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