Community mailboxes in the Burnt Lake and Queens industrial park area may as well have targets painted on them.
Suzy Dietrich, Nor-Ag Ltd. office manager in Burnt Lake, said theft from mailboxes is getting out of hand.
“This year has been especially bad. It’s probably happened about six times in the last three months,” Dietrich said.
She said a few mailboxes were replaced last month because thieves have been popping off the doors, and prior that, mail delivery was reduced temporarily because of thefts.
“It’s not a minor inconvenience when you’re talking about 140 different businesses that all now have to go and collect their mail,” Dietrich said about driving to the main Canada Post office in Red Deer.
Dietrich, who is involved in local crime prevention efforts, said it’s also hard on clients, some of whom have started hand-delivering their cheques.
“As businesses, we generally have accounts and people send cheques so that’s what they are looking for, all the banking information for incoming cheques.”
She said accounts go into default when cheques don’t make it to businesses. There’s a lot of added time and administration.
Businesses also need to send out invoices but no longer want to drop them into the community boxes, she added.
Ideally, Dietrich would like mailboxes to be taken off the streets and for mail delivery and pickup to be centralized inside a local business where there are people working and mail can be safe.
A statement to the Advocate from Canada Post said the company encourages anyone witnessing suspicious activities to report them immediately
“We take the security of the mail very seriously and do everything possible to assist law enforcement. Our efforts involve everything from equipment, to monitoring, to working closely with police. As the local police service is investigating, it would be inappropriate to comment further on any details,” said Hayley Magermans, with media relations at Canada Post, in an email.
Blackfalds RCMP Staff Sgt. Ken Morrison said mail theft is a fairly constant problem in rural areas.
“These mail boxes are usually out in the open and are targets that criminals are actively engaged in going after. We are actively investigating and working on some initiatives when it comes to mail theft,” Morrison said.