Too easy for thieves: USPS trying to replace flimsy cluster boxes

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Again and again, cluster mailboxes prove to be hot spots for thieves. That’s because most of them around Albuquerque are old, outdated and flimsy in their construction, making it too easy to break in.

Richard Adams, who lives in a gated community near Paseo del Norte and Ventura, is among the many mail theft victims of late. On Friday morning, his security cameras captured a sedan pull up to the cluster box outside his home. The surveillance video shows three people get out and pry open the boxes, grab mail and take off.

“It’s very scary that people can get in your personal information just by busting into it and in two minutes or less they’re gone,” Adams said.

Oddly enough, Adams’ daughter, Cassie, was a mail theft victim just six weeks earlier. She, however, lives all the way across town in the South Valley near Bridge and Coors. Her neighborhood is also gated.

In both of the Adams’ cases, the crooks’ method was the same: prying open the outgoing mail slot, which then opens the mega door to all the boxes.

“No matter where you live, safest part of town, worst part of town, you’re not safe,” Cassie Adams said.

“I was told by the postal guy that they’re replacing them with higher steel doors, they’ve changed the design on them so that if you bust open the outgoing mail slot it’s not going to open all the doors anymore,” Richard Adams said.

KRQE News 13 reached out to a local postal inspector who confirmed there’s a large amount of outdated, easy to break into cluster boxes in the metro.

The Postal Service is trying to replace old boxes with new, higher security boxes. But the postal inspector says the number of boxes being broken into is outpacing the number of newer, tougher boxes — meaning the replacements aren’t always better.

Cassie Adams and her neighbors lucked out with a higher security box, but that hasn’t totally calmed her mind.

“I’m still uneasy about it. And I check my mail every day because I don’t want anything important getting stolen,” she said.

Last year, Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham successfully persuaded the Chief Postal Inspector in Washington, D.C. to add more inspectors to Albuquerque to fight mail theft.

The two additional inspectors started work in Albuquerque last month.

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