FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --A rash of broken mailboxes and stolen mail has Clovis police and federal investigators working together.
Police say it's happened to at least 13 mailboxes so far and the crime isn't hard to spot. An open mailbox with bent metal hanging off the end gives it away.
Someone broke into a community mailbox near Temperance and Shepherd and Clovis police believe the thieves stole every piece of mail. Well, at least every piece they found useful. "There was mail in there, which I thought 'Oh, it's going to be gone,'" said Jill Aiello, who found her mailbox busted in early January. "But I noticed it was all junk mail."
When Aiello took inventory of her broken box, she noticed a few checks missing for her business, and she's worried there may be more -- like bank records or credit card offers.
Clovis police say it can open up each of the victims to several layers of identity theft. "People can get access to a lot of things that way and we're obviously trying to do something to stop that," said police spokeswoman Janet Stoll-Lee.
The crooks have targeted community mailboxes all across Clovis, but in this neighborhood, nearly every box has been hit and the victims are using social media to make sure everyone knows about it and protects themselves.
A lot of them are frustrated they're just now finding out about crimes that started, at least, two weeks ago. And while they wait for a fix from the U.S. Postal Service, deliveries are
still coming to some of the compromised boxes, while others have to pick up mail at a post office almost six miles away.
But they also know the worst may be yet to come.
It's unsettling because you don't know exactly what they got," said Aiello. The USPS is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the thieves. You can call (877)876-2455 with tips.
Stealing mail is a federal crime, so if they're caught, the suspects could go to prison for up to five years.