Thieves broke into the blue U.S. Postal Service mail collection boxes at locations in Salado, Heidenheimer, Holland and Temple and stole mail that looked like it might contain money or gift cards, U.S. Postal Inspector Mike Sullivan said.
Dan Williams, a Salado resident who gets his mail in Holland, said Holland’s outside boxes were targeted, and notices on them said the break-in happened Christmas Eve.
“They’re not taking people’s bills,” Williams said. “It appears they’re looking for Christmas cards with money or gift cards in them.”
Sullivan verified the break-ins and thefts started Christmas Eve.
He said a group is victimizing the Central Texas area and is now in the Waco area.
An investigation into the thefts is active.
Stealing mail from the U.S. Postal Service is a federal felony offense.
The sentence could be up to five years in prison for each piece of stolen mail, Sullivan said.
“These are the true Grinches of Christmas,” Sullivan said. “They’re targeting areas with little or no surveillance. For instance, Holland is a four-hour office, meaning the postmaster is there for only four hours. The office is unmanned for 20 hours a day.”
Many times the thefts are connected to drug users, Sullivan said.
Other postal locations have been victims of criminal mischief, he said.
“We apologize for any inconvenience or financial loss mail users are having. Please contact the analyst’s office at
512-342-1540 to report any financial loss,” Sullivan said. “We take this very seriously.”
He encouraged individuals to take mail inside post offices or hand it to mail carriers instead of using the blue collection boxes.
Sullivan advised mailers not to send cash or coins in the mail and to remove mail daily from their mailboxes.
He also said individuals who cannot pick up their own mail should ask someone else to pick it up for them or make arrangements with the post office to hold it until it can be picked up.
The Postal Service is also looking at ways to further secure and modify the blue collection boxes to stop the thievery, despite the fact that break-ins into the blue boxes are extremely rare, Sullivan said.