Concerns raised over frequency of mail theft

by | Feb 2, 2024

District of Carleton North looks to boost security measures to help prevent postal box break-ins

The District of Carleton North is concerned about recent mailbox break-ins in their municipality and is looking to improve security around their district’s rural boxes.

Deputy Mayor Karen Hargrove raised concerns at a recent District of Carleton North council meeting. She noted her father had dealt with the issue when mailboxes in his yard were broken into.

“It is quite shocking,” she told the council. “It was next to the business and there’s houses all around it. It shook my father up.”

Councillor Angel Connor, who works for Canada Post, said break-ins have been an ongoing issue, and Canada Post is aware.

The corporation offers preventative suggestions, such as utilizing direct deposit for cheques and having parcels delivered to an actual post office instead of rural boxes. Still, many councillors noted these were only ‘band-aid’ measures.

“I feel that as a municipality we should speak up,” said Hargrove. “Stealing mail is a federal offence.”

Connors noted that even when culprits are caught on camera, culprits aren’t always punished, pointing to a recent case where an offence was captured on video and a person was formally charged, but those charges were later dropped.

Hargrove told the council her father’s experience didn’t offer much hope, noting the RCMP were notified, but no one visited.

“He did receive a phone call in the afternoon,” said Hargrove. “The constable said that without video surveillance, it wasn’t worth their time to come investigate it in person.”

Unfortunately, when mail theft happens, there is more than just material loss, as people’s identities are at risk of being stolen, which the council agreed can significantly impact the individual’s lives.

Connor said there have been local cases of identity theft linked to mailbox thefts.

Many councillors shared frustrations at the insufficient response from both the RCMP and Canada Post.

Mayor Andrew Harvey suggested the district send a formal letter to Canada Post regarding the issue.

The district will request a list of community mailbox locations to see if the municipality can improve security.

The council will also be formally asking the RCMP to attend the next council session to discuss the issue and what preventative measures are being taken.

River Valley Sun reached the Canada Post Customer Service Centre, which said there is very little Canada Post can do to prevent mail theft.

“Individual rural boxes are the sole responsibility of the owner and any theft from those boxes is out of our control,” advised the Canada Post representative.

The spokesperson said that in the event of a Canada Post break-in, the corporation will replace the lock, make necessary repairs, and inform local law enforcement.

“Beyond that, however, we can’t prevent an attack on mailboxes.”

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