VIDEO: Two men seen breaking into mailboxes at Northwest Austin condos
AUSTIN, Texas - A locked, metal gate now surrounds the mailboxes at the Mesa Village Condominiums in Northwest Austin.
It’s just one of the security measures the HOA implemented in January after dealing with multiple break-ins.
But earlier this month, new cameras captured two men in security outfits that were able to get past the locked gate and start opening up boxes and stealing mail, appearing to have a master key.
"I want people to be aware of it so that they're able to take precautions to prevent their mail from being taken," said Ashley Hornung, a resident. "And I would love to see USPS or APD or whoever, whatever authorities are involved, to just take more serious steps to catch these people who are doing it."
Hornung said she has heard of residents in other, nearby complexes experiencing the same problem. She personally has had mail stolen three times in the year that she’s been a resident.
"Some medical bills, a gift from my dad that was taken…I don't think I had anything financial, but I know of other people who did," she said. "Everyone who I've spoken to at least feels pretty violated by it."
Multiple incidents of mail theft have been brought to Council member Mackenzie Kelly’s attention over the last year or so, sometimes involving a key and sometimes vandalized mailboxes.
"It's absolutely frustrating to continue to see mailboxes get broken into," said Council member Kelly. "While I do understand that this is something that is regulated by the federal government, I still have to understand and acknowledge that people in the community are frustrated and rightfully so."
She’s been reaching out to various entities and sent a memo to the interim city manager on Wednesday. In the memo, she requested information on any steps the city can take and asked that a letter be sent to the postmaster general requesting a change of master keys for mailboxes citywide.
FOX 7 is still working on getting more information from APD.
FOX 7 also reached out to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and they sent us the following statement:
"Every day, the US Postal Service safely delivers mail to more than 150 million addresses; mail that includes checks, money orders, credit cards and merchandise. While the U.S. Mail remains one of the most secure means to transmit such items, unfortunately, these items are also attractive to thieves.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) has received reports of mail theft in Austin. Inspectors take every report of mail theft seriously. They use a variety of investigative tools and actively work with our local law enforcement partners and with the community to identify those responsible for mail theft. In order to protect the integrity of the investigations, additional details cannot be released.
Every mailbox, from a neighborhood mailbox to a blue USPS collection box, has strong security measures in place to protect the contents. However, thieves will use a variety of methods and tools to attempt to bypass these security measures. The Postal Inspection Service works closely with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to ensure the security and safety of the U.S. Mail, including the security of collection and neighborhood mailboxes, and provides recommendations on security issues. Any decisions related to changes in USPS policy or security measures are made by USPS.
Regardless of the method used, mail theft most often occurs in the over-night hours when there are fewer people around to witness it.
While mail theft does occur, there are steps postal customers can take to minimize becoming a victim. Don’t let incoming mail sit in your mailbox. Postal Inspectors recommend checking your mailbox every day and removing your mail as promptly as possible. Customers can deposit their outgoing mail into the mail slot inside the lobby of their local post office.
Mail theft is an opportunistic crime. The longer your mail sits in any mailbox, the more susceptible it is to theft.
Postal Inspectors rely on the reports by customers to identify any items taken from the mail. If you are a victim of mail theft, you should report it to your local police AND to the Postal Inspection Service by calling our hotline at 877-876-2455 or visiting our website at www.USPIS.gov/report.
For more information about mail theft prevention, please visit our website, www.USPIS.gov.
If you are a witness to mail theft or have knowledge of mail theft related activity, Postal Inspectors ask that you provide your tips by calling our hotline or visiting our website.
Mail theft is a state and federal crime punishable by up to five years prison and substantial fines. Unauthorized Possession of a USPS key is a federal crime punishable by up to ten years in prison."