BAKERFSIELD, California. - According to the United State Postal Service there is an uptick in mail theft statewide and this morning residents in northwest Bakersfield became victims.
Near the intersection of Via Fontenelle Dr & Lombardy Ct. two cluster mailboxes were opened overnight and mail was stolen.
"Just plain criminals, they're just thieves and they're stealing from all of us," said Kurt Brassfield who lives in the area.
This, just a few months after Bakersfield Congressman and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy addressed the problem, reminding crooks that mail theft is a federal offense.
Brassfield said he does everything he can to keep his mail safe. He puts his outgoing mail in right before the mail carrier shows up and picks it up right after the mail carrier drops it off. Now he wants USPS to step up and do more.
"We've got postal inspectors stationed in Bakersfield that are actively working on these cases," said Jeff Fitch a postal inspector for USPS.
Fitch said USPS law enforcement works closely with the Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff's Office to catch these criminals.
He said USPS is replacing locks and in some cases entire mailboxes to prevent theft from reoccurring.
"Boxes that do get replaced with the new high security boxes, they're harder to break into," said Fitch.
He said it's a process to order the boxes and decide where they go first. Fitch said USPS is analyzing which boxes are targeted most often and working on those first.
Local resident, Brassfield, however, said he's tired of waiting and is ready for a change.
"If they're not going to solve this problem, then we need to get rid of these and have it delivered right to the house again. We'll be responsible for our own mail and our mailboxes. That may be the best choice we have out of all of this," said Brassfield.
If your mailbox is tampered with or broken into USPS officials said don't call your local branch, instead call 1-877-876-2455. There are dispatchers available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Those dispatchers will reach out to the local branches. USPS officials said residents should also contact their local law enforcement office just to make them aware of the situation.
The Bakersfield Police Department can be reached at 327-7111 and the Kern County Sheriff's Office can be reached at 861-3110.
Officials said it's also important to call back to report any unusual activity on your credit or debit cards after your mail is stolen, that helps them better track the thieves.