HONOLULU (KHON2) — On Saturday, Hilo resident Donn Hakoda and his family went to run some errands when he received a notification on his phone.

“My phone went off and my alarm had notified me that someone was at the mailbox,” said Donn Hakoda. “I see a nicer car, I figured somebody dropping off a gift or something.”

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Except it wasn’t anyone Hakoda knew.

“When we got home later that afternoon, I noticed the mailbox is open, and the flag was still up,” Hakoda said. “So I said oh, that person must have stole my mail.”

His mailbox wasn’t the only target.

“I found out later that evening when my mail carrier came that I guess they had hit several homes in our neighborhood,” said Hakoda. “They found my mail open in somebody else’s mailbox. I guess they’re trying to get rid of the evidence.”

Hawaii Island police are requesting the public’s help in another mail theft case. This one on Nohea Street in Leilani Estates. On Dec. 13, a homeowner reporting seeing a blue car drive into her driveway after taking mail. Police say a similar vehicle was also reported removing mail from the Hawaiian Shores and Hawaiian Beaches subdivisions.

It’s not just Hawaii Island. A Waipahu resident also called police after his mail box was targeted last week.

“These criminals, they’re actually driving up and down neighborhoods,” said Sgt. Chris Kim of Honolulu CrimeStoppers. “Typically what they’ll do is look for the mailbox with the red flag, which means that there’s outgoing mail in there.”

Honolulu CrimeStoppers is advising residents to avoid mailing out checks or other personal information, switch to online instead. Residents should also consider investing in more secure mailboxes.

“We’ve got to start shying away from the traditional ones, where you just split open,” said Sgt. Kim. “Anybody can reach inside there. So just want to encourage people to start investing in the type of mailbox that you’re able to lock up and maybe even if possible, invest in a P.O. box.”

Hakoda says it’s a lesson learned and he’s not taking any chances moving forward.

“Me and my neighbor are saying we’re going to get lock mailboxes,” Hakoda said. “We both don’t normally mail stuff out, but it’s kind of sad. Setting up all the security we have for homes and stuff. Just everybody be on the alert. Be careful. Be aware of your house and watch out for your neighbors.”

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Any time someone’s mail gets stolen, they’re advised to call police immediately to make a report.