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Series of mailbox vandalisms reported in rural Paso Robles 

Photo courtesy Claudia Aurand.

Photo courtesy Claudia Aurand.

–A series of mailbox vandalisms have been reported in rural areas around Paso Robles, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office. There have been four instances of mailbox vandalism and mail theft within the last month.

Becky Alberter, who lives in rural Paso Robles near Tobin James Winery, said that her mailbox was broken into about two weeks ago. She said that a neighbor’s had also been broken into within the last few days. Their mailboxes are located on the corner of Union Road and Compere Way.

“We have encountered a disturbing problem of vandalism of our locked mail box units,” said Claudia Aurand, another rural resident whose mailbox was broken into. “I believe there have been several other rural areas effected. The sheriff’s office has been contacted and they are investigating this subject. People should be aware of any suspicious behavior. This is a federal offense.”

Photo courtesy Becky Alberter.

Photo courtesy Becky Alberter.

“We are conducting investigations in those cases that have investigative leads,” said San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office Public Informations Officer Tony Cipolla. “We have notified the postal inspector and they are taking action to repair the damaged community mailboxes. We have spoken to potential victims in an effort to identify any suspicious activity, persons, and vehicles.”

Cipolla said that is difficult to determine how many cases there are because often times the theft goes unnoticed or unreported, but was able to identify four instances of vandalism going back about one month:

  • A debit card was possibly stolen from a mailbox on Jardine Road– $10,000 loss. The case is active and still under investigation.
  • A large amount of mail was found in the gutter in the area of Petersen Ranch Road and Sunnyside Way. The reporting party had found the outgoing lockbox for the community mailbox open on two occasions and reported it to the post office. The recovered mail was from 13 separate addresses in the immediate area from where it was recovered. Deputies talked with the owners of the mail they could locate but were unable to develop any suspect information. The case is exceptionally cleared at this time.
  • A community mailbox was broken into on Compere Way. Police received information that other possible mailboxes were broken into in the area. The postal inspector was notified. The damaged community mailbox has been removed for repair and mail deliver has temporally been suspended but is available at the post office. There are no investigative leads at this time.
  • Police received a report of theft from an unsecured mailbox occurred at an unknown date and time. There was a reported loss of a $3,200 pay check. The report has not been completed yet and no further information is available

Mail theft is a misdemeanor and may be punished by a fine, by imprisonment in a county jail not exceed one year, or by both a fine and imprisonment. Mail theft may be a felony if the amount stolen exceeds $950. Identity theft is often results from mail theft. Identity theft is most often punishable as a misdemeanor.

“Because of the vast number of mailboxes throughout the county, often in unsecured and isolated locations, it is difficult for law enforcement to catch the perpetrator in the act,” said Cipolla. “We rely on the public to call us when they observe suspicious activity. Sometimes these cases are solved when evidence is found during the course of an unrelated investigation.”

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