80+ neighborhood groups working together to take on mailbox thieves

Pervasive problem called ‘one-stop shopping' for thieves

SAN ANTONIO – Cluster mailboxes have proven to be a bonanza for thieves, filled with credit cards, blank checks, medications, personal data and more -- all for the taking.

As president of the Northeast Neighborhood Alliance, John Clamp said the problem is so pervasive, many leaders of more than 80 neighborhood associations have come to him saying, “Let’s talk about it as a neighborhood alliance. Let’s figure out what to do.”

The repeated mailbox break-ins are on the agenda for its monthly meeting Monday evening.

RELATED: U.S. Postal Service reports increase in mailbox break-ins in SA area

A former San Antonio City Council member, Clamp said centralized mailboxes in subdivisions, apartments and office buildings, are like “one-stop shopping.”

“Think about it, 40 mailboxes. It’s like 40 small banks,” Clamp said.

But the only way the U.S. Postal Service could quantify how many break-ins have occurred was through the number of mailboxes that have been repaired or replaced -- 1,686 already in the first six months of the current fiscal year, nearly double last year’s total of 1,860.

A USPS spokeswoman said that’s a big reason why it’s taking so long to repair or replace the mailboxes that have been damaged.

“They don’t have the resources. We get that,” Clamp said. “Can our neighborhood associations do a matching program to replace those mailboxes?”

Clamp said that’s among the ideas that will be discussed, as well as encouraging more online transactions on secure sites, being more proactive by regularly checking mailboxes, or arranging for package pickups elsewhere.

As it is now, many people are being forced to pick up their mail at local post offices, which can be inconvenient for those with limited mobility or no transportation.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday at the Northeast Service Center, 10303 Tool Yard, south of Wurzbach Parkway between Perrin-Beitel and Thousand Oaks.

About the Author:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.