Thieves rip open community mailbox in NW Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Neighbors along a Northwest Fresno street are scrambling to protect their personal information, that's now in the hands of thieves. Their community mailbox was ripped open. It happened near the intersection of Hayes and Ashlan avenues.

Neighbors say it's disconcerting to know their private information is likely in the hands of criminals. But investigators say tracking down the mail is difficult, unless people report fraudulent activity.

Vikram Jeet did a double take when she went to her mailbox Monday. The doors to the locked unit were wide open, and nothing was inside. "During the Christmas time it gets broken into. But this is the first time during the summertime it's been broken into," said Jeet.

U.S. Postal Inspector Jeff Fitch says mail theft is such a prominent problem in the Central Valley, they've recruited postal inspectors from different parts of the country to help with Operation Broken Mailbox. The taskforce works from Sacramento all the way through Bakersfield.

"Even if in a couple of weeks somebody notices something that doesn't look right in any of their credit card information or their banking information it's still critical to contact us and make that report," said Fitch.

The locks have since been replaced by the U.S. Postal Service and Jeet and her neighbors are getting their mail again. But it's a solution that doesn't make them feel entirely protected.

"If we could get a little bit more security especially with the mail box because of the credit card information, bank information," said Jeet.

Fitch says there is a ten thousand-dollar reward for anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction for the people responsible.

Stealing mail is a federal offense, with a punishment of up to five years in prison and a $250,000.

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