PORT ANGELES — Law enforcement authorities are urging residents to monitor their mail deliveries during the holiday season after a surge of thefts and attempted thefts of mailboxes.
About 20 mailboxes were opened or had mail stolen from them this week on Deer Park Road in criminal activity that has mainly occurred in heavily populated rural areas around Port Angeles, said Brian King, Clallam County chief criminal deputy.
King said deputies have noticed clusters of open boxes on North and South Bagley Creek roads, which straddle U.S. Highway 101 east of Port Angeles.
Since Nov. 8, the Port Angeles Police Department has responded to 13 mail or package-related thefts, Assistant Chief Jason Viada said Wednesday.
The Sequim Police Department has received three reports of stolen packages and one report of a man opening mailboxes — he was not apprehended — since Dec. 1, Sgt. Sean Madison said Wednesday.
“I wouldn’t call that a pattern or a rash,” he said.
Boxes are found open “quite frequently” on Deer Park Road, likely disturbed by people driving around and hoping to steal gift cards, checks and credit card solicitations through which identities can be stolen, King said.
Mail theft and mailbox vandalism are are federal offenses.
Maiboxes are considered federal property, according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
“Folks are cruising around at night, looking for an easy payday by opening mailboxes because of Christmas,” King said.
“We always urge people to know their mail delivery schedule so they can check if they have anything in those rural mailboxes and go through them as soon as possible.
“Don’t let them sit overnight because folks are looking for easy money.”
Residents sporadically report that their mailboxes have been disturbed or suspect mail is missing throughout the county, although lately reports have emanated east of Port Angeles.
King said the best way to protect mail is by having a post office box, and short that, by having a lockable mailbox.
“If you want that level of convenience, you should have a locking mailbox,” he said.
“There are so many ways your identity can be stolen if someone else gets your mail.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].