HONOLULU(KHON2) - Mail collection boxes are convenient to use. But are they safe?
A peek inside the door of one blue U.S. Postal Service mail drop box in Pearl City on Waimano Home Road uncovered a sticky trap set to catch mail. Five thick white strips of double stick tape.
The problem is that it wasn't put there by the post office.
A witness who preferred to remain anonymous said a woman told him she put her mail in the mailbox, but didn't hear it drop. That's when she looked inside the lid.
"So when she open the door to the mailbox of course she found her letters stuck to the tape. And she found one other letter stuck to the tape. She took the other letter and her letter and dropped it in the box. While I was looking at the mailbox this guy walks up and said, hey is something wrong with the mailbox because I saw someone else looking at it and I saw you looking out it is something wrong with it?" the witness said.
At that point he explained to the other man that there was tape in the drop box.
"A lot of people go over there, open up the box and throw in the mail because they're in a rush, but I think now days people are just going to have to open up that mailbox and make sure their mail goes in all the way. So it is getting definitely spookier to use a mailbox," the witness said.
Though the collection boxes are convenient, how often are they checked for tampering?
"They're checked nearly every day by the postal employees who pick up the mail," explained USPS inspector Brian Shaughnessy. "But that part of the box may not necessarily be checked on a daily basis. That is something that we are working with the Postal Service on correcting as the mail is typically pulled from the other side of the collection box."
Shaughnessy said the postal service has seen an uptick in mail theft in the last two to three years.
"Depositing envelopes or mail into a collection box like that is typically a safe way to send mail, but as we've seen unfortunately mail thieves often go to great lengths to steal from the Postal Service and its customers. Including breaking into and even in some cases removing entire collection boxes. So due to these recent thefts that's why we remind customers they also have the option to hand out-going mail to the letter carrier or drop box inside the nearest post office," explained Shaughnessy.
Shaughnessy said the postal service has marked the collection box as out of service while they are addressing the problem and pursuing an investigation.
"We would ask that anyone who witnesses any individual who appears to be tampering with mail mail or stealing mail to immediately report it by calling 911 and by calling our local office as well at 808-837-2970," Shaughnessy said.
There is a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in mail theft.
The 24-hour hotline to call is 877-876-2455 or log on the United Postal Inspectors website for more information.