Repeated mailbox break-ins have residents worried about identity theft

Community mailboxes in two greater Moncton neighbourhoods have been broken into in recent weeks. Pictured is one of three vandalized boxes on Rural Estates Drive in Moncton's north end. (Mariam Mesbah/CBC - image credit)
Community mailboxes in two greater Moncton neighbourhoods have been broken into in recent weeks. Pictured is one of three vandalized boxes on Rural Estates Drive in Moncton's north end. (Mariam Mesbah/CBC - image credit)

Greater Moncton residents are raising concerns about identity theft after more than two dozen incidents of stolen mail at community mailboxes over the past two weeks.

Denise Newman-Tramble said her neighbourhood mailbox on Catamount Road was hit four times in nine days, with the locks found broken on the ground.

"Very private confidential information is in the mail and I'm really concerned about people's identity being stolen," she said.

Residents of the quiet road on the northern outskirts of Moncton don't know when their regular service will resume and are worried about how their stolen mail could be used by thieves. Those break-ins come as people in different parts of the city report overnight mail theft at boxes.

Canada Post told CBC News that its security and investigations and operations teams are aware of incidents of mailbox vandalism in Moncton and the RCMP is investigating.

Spokesperson Eunice Machuchi said customers are being directed to where they can pick up their mail while "repair or replacement" of the boxes is underway.

"We take these matters and the security of the mail very seriously. We don't divulge specific security measures or broader information related to our equipment publicly as doing so would hamper their effectiveness," Machuchi wrote in an emailed statement.

Submitted by Steve Tramble
Submitted by Steve Tramble

Community mailboxes were rolled out by Canada Post as part of a cost-saving measure to replace door-to-door delivery. The large "super" boxes mean dozens of individual letter boxes for entire streets or neighbourhoods are clustered together in one unit.

Codiac RCMP Sgt. Patricia Levesque said over 50 reports of mailbox damage have been received since the start of January and "several" active investigations are underway.

"I've received a couple of calls actually today for the same situation," she said.

Levesque said the thefts are predominantly happening in the north end of Moncton and the Fox Creek area of Dieppe. Patrols have been increased in those neighbourhoods and RCMP have partnered with Canada Post to address the issue.

"It's not the first time that we've heard of it, but certainly at this point in time there's obviously a rash of them that are going on, given the number of reports that we've had," she said.

Repeated break-ins

The community mailbox on Catamount Road has been targeted by vandals so frequently, replacement locks have been snapped before new keys could be issued.

Newman-Tramble said the parcel boxes were first broken into on Jan. 20. Then less than a week later, they were forced open again along with some of the letter boxes.

Canada Post called her about pickup for a new key later that week. But the community mailbox had already been the victim of yet another break-in.

Oliver Walters/CBC
Oliver Walters/CBC

Residents on the street called the Crown corporation to report the incident and it was preparing to change the locks and hold mail. But people in the area are left waiting for answers and haven't had mail delivered in several days.

Last Thursday, Newman-Tramble said, all the mailboxes were found busted and cleared out. The parcel boxes were allegedly broken into again on Friday night.

"There were empty boxes, people's mail was exposed, there was mail all over the ground," she said. "The locks were completely broken off – snapped right off."

'Quite upset about it'

Angela Hare has lived in Moncton's north end for two decades without ever seeing a mailbox pried open. On Thursday morning, the door was hanging open and all the mail was gone.

"We live in a really quiet neighbourhood and normally we don't have many issues here. "It was a surprise and our neighbours were quite upset about it," she said.

People living in the north end say at least 10 mailboxes were broken into that same night.

Hare called Canada Post and was told the mailbox would be repaired or replaced. She said the postal carrier for the neighbourhood said it's "the worst she's ever seen."

"I'll be checking my mail every day now, I won't put it off," she said. "Now I'll be more diligent, which is unfortunate."