Local

Post office mailbox burglarized in northwest Houston

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Just because you put your mail in the post office mailbox doesn't necessarily mean it is safe. Someone recently broke into a mailbox at the Fairbanks Station Post Office in northwest Houston. Officials don't know exactly what was taken, and customers say they're nervous.

Someone used a crowbar to get into the mailbox three Sundays ago. The mailbox was damaged, and a sign now directs people to go inside to drop off their mail.

Postal inspectors don't know how much mail was taken, but as tax season gets underway and people mail off tax returns and bills, a thief is a big concern.

"Personal information, credit card information and, you know, your social security number," customer Bob Ford said. "Like, I'm dropping off IRS forms right now."

The postal inspection service says a new mailbox will be installed soon.

"I think the post office needs to have more security," Ford said.

Two and a half years ago, thieves targeted a number of mailboxes on the northwest side. That resulted in upgrades to mailbox design in order to deter thefts.

This time, the postal inspection service says this crime is the only mailbox burglary they're aware of. Still, it was unsettling for the people just trying to drop off their mail Tuesday during the lunch hour.

"That's obviously an outrage and that should definitely be punishable by jail time, and they should make the security on those more tight," customer Gracie Gilbert said.

With sensitive information inside some of those envelopes, some customers are rethinking security entirely.

"Well, I guess it's better to email, huh?" customer Pam Coen said, laughing.

If you think your mail was stolen from the Fairbanks Station mailbox three weeks ago, you can call the postal inspection service 24 hours a day at 877-876-2455 or walk into your local post office to file a complaint in person.

The good news is that since 80 percent of tax returns are e-filed and it's still early in the tax season, the thief probably didn't get much in the way of social security numbers, addresses and sensitive financial information from tax returns.
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