Metro asks for public’s help in stopping mail theft

Once upon a time, it was unthinkable that someone would break into mailboxes, whether yours, mine or any of those big blue boxes that are the property of the U.S. Postal Service. But times have changed, and mailbox crimes are happening with greater frequency, especially in Summerlin.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to put a handle on identifying the brazen crooks, and they know it, which is why both the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Metropolitan Police Department need your input to help catch them. Mail tampering is a federal crime with penalties that range up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“We need the public’s assistance to help us identify persons who are breaking into mailboxes,” said Andrea Avery, a U.S. postal inspector in Las Vegas.

The message is the same from Metro. “We are involved in a cooperative effort with the postal inspectors,” said Laura Meltzer, a Metro spokeswoman. “We assist in these matters when requested by the postal inspectors.”

She said Metro is well aware of mailbox tampering “in several parts of the valley,” not just in Summerlin.

Meltzer explained that break-ins involving the big blue boxes are federal matters, since those are Postal Service property. But she added that there have a number of calls to Metro’s 911 and 311 involving residential mail thefts as well.

Avery acknowledged the the Postal Service is “very concerned” about the growing problem of mailbox break-ins and mail theft. She said the crooks are looking for anything of value, such as checks, gift cards and personal identity documents.

“We want people to let us know as soon as possible after a mailbox has been tampered with, or mail has been stolen,” she added.

Recognizing the fact that phone numbers for post offices in Las Vegas are not listed in the phone directories, Avery advised that victims of mail break-ins and theft should call 877-876-2455. “That’s the toll-free number for reporting such crimes. And the more information the caller can provide, the better it is for us to find the criminals,” she said.

Meltzer said “we have passed that toll-free number on to all of our Metro dispatchers for calls involving post office boxes, since that’s a federal matter, but we are available to assist the postal inspectors when called upon.”

What kind of information do officials want from the public? “Things like license plates, descriptions of vehicles and of individuals, if possible, anything that can help make our job a bit easier in tracking down offenders,” Avery said.

She noted that post office phone numbers are not listed because most postal facilities are constantly busy, many are understaffed, and employees have little time to answer calls. Still, Avery acknowledged that the Postal Service has to do “a better job of communicating with the public” on matters of mail crimes.

Marilyn Wassell, customer service coordinator for the postal system in Las Vegas, said “the Postal Inspection Service is replacing and repairing mailboxes within seven to 10 days after they have been broken into. In general, we advise people to mail items at their local post office. But if they do leave mail in their mailbox for pickup by their carrier, by no means should they leave it overnight.”

Major damage was done to a large number of mailboxes that had been invaded in the area of West Sahara Avenue and South Hualapai Way several weeks ago. There have been numerous other reports in recent months of mailbox tampering and stolen mail in other areas of Summerlin. But one of the more blatant mail crimes was discovered in Sun City Summerlin.

“We’ve been experiencing a number of mailbox invasions for some time in Sun City,” said former City Councilman David Steinman, who is president of the Sun City Board of Directors.

Steinman, who also serves in the community’s Security Patrol, explained that while on patrol one day, he found envelopes that had been torn open and scattered on the ground near one of the Postal Service boxes in the community. “We have been urging residents not to leave mail in their home mailboxes, but, if possible, to drive directly to the post office to avoid tampering,” he said.

— Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. His most recent novel, “Double Play,” is now available. Contact him at

North Las Vegas Water Meters
Randy DeVaul shows off the new water meters that the city is installing.
Project 150 Thanksgiving 2018
About 100 volunteers for Project 150 box Thanksgiving meals for high school students and their families in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
Three Square’s Maurice Johnson Talks About Food Waste
Three Square’s director of operations Maurice Johnson talks about food waste.
Parade preparation nears completion
Downtown Summerlin prepares for its annual holiday parade.
Clark County Wetlands promotes 2019 Wetland Walker Program
This year the park will be celebrating the Northern Flicker. The program is designed to teach about that bird, and encourage people to visit the Wetlands and walk the same distance the bird migrates each year.
Poet’s Walk Henderson introduces storytelling
Residents enjoy a storytelling activity.
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Herb Jaffe Video
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like