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Why these USPS mailboxes in Hampton Roads are taped closed

USPS collection bins taped across Hampton Roads
USPS collection bins taped across Hampton Roads
USPS collection bins taped across Hampton Roads
USPS collection bins taped across Hampton Roads
USPS collection bins taped across Hampton Roads
USPS collection bins taped across Hampton Roads
Posted at 12:43 PM, Jan 20, 2023

NORFOLK, Va. — Several USPS mail collection bins across Hampton Roads are boarded up because of break-ins and thefts, according to the United States Postal Inspection Service.

WTKR Problem Solver Erin Miller started investigating the taped mailboxes earlier in the week.

Since her initial report, she learned these are the same broken bins that were vandalized in December.

USPS collection bins taped across Hampton Roads
USPS collection bins taped across Hampton Roads

Officials with the United States Postal Inspection Service said they are investigating after several collection bins were physically pried open and mail was stolen.

Now almost two months into the new year, they’re still not fixed.

"We have numerous leads on this. We did make some arrests in some of these mail thefts in December. We're continuing the investigation. We believe there are more people involved in this,” said U.S. Postal Inspector, Tom Sylvester.

USPS collection bins taped across Hampton Roads
USPS collection bins taped across Hampton Roads

Sylvester and his team are investigating these box break-ins.

He said that mail theft carries a penalty of up to five years in federal prison and the associated crimes carry even more time.

WTKR also reached out to the division that’s handling the mailbox maintenance.

Philip Bogenberger, a spokesperson said,

USPS collection bins taped across Hampton Roads
USPS collection bins taped across Hampton Roads

“The security and sanctity of the mail is a top priority for the Postal Service. Some blue collection boxes soon will be repaired or replaced due damage the boxes recently sustained. The new boxes will have enhanced security features."

Problem Solver Erin Miller asked for more details on the “enhanced security features,” but wasn’t given specifics.

“As far as outgoing mail, we deliver billions of pieces of mail each year [and] the vast majority of those mail pieces make it to their destination safe and secure,” Sylvester said. “If you have any concerns with placing your mail in a collection box, you can always hand it directly to a letter carrier, you could walk into post office and hand it to somebody over the counter or drop it in a mail slot that's inside the post office."

He wouldn’t confirm whether checks were stolen, but Sylvester said that generally speaking, these boxes are targeted for financial crimes.

If you are sending money, you may want to consider using Venmo, Zelle, or do a direct-bank transfer.

So, the big takeaways:

  • The collection bins are set to be repaired and/or replaced soon
  • All mail collection bins must be secure to accept mail before they are back in service
  • New bins will have "enhanced safety features"
  • If residents have a tip regarding the investigation or a problem with another blue collection bin, they can file a report online with the United States Postal Inspection Service or call 877-876-2455.