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But investigators are counting on the public's help
The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is investigating a rash of community mailbox break-ins in several communities within its jurisdiction over the last month.
“We are upping patrols in the areas of community mailboxes,” RNC spokesman Const. James Cadigan told The Telegram Wednesday.
“It’s certainly, definitely more prevalent in the past few weeks than usual.”
Residents are being asked to report suspicious people or activity in their neighbourhoods.
Cadigan could not say what is being stolen or what the perpetrators are using to break into the boxes.
He said it’s going to take a community effort to bust the case because, as with any other property crime, police rely on tips and reports from the public.
Canada Post said it has had no reports or issues regarding whether special ballots are involved in the thefts.
“We can confirm that there were some incidents of community mailbox vandalism in the St. John’s area and in adjacent communities over the last four weeks. Individual mail compartments were not impacted, but some larger compartments for parcels were impacted,” spokeswoman Valérie Chartrand said.
“We are working to repair the affected parcel compartments as soon as possible. We take these matters and the security of the mail very seriously.”
Postal inspectors are working in collaboration with the RNC on the case, she said.
“When these types of incidents occur, we ask customers who believe they have not received a specific piece of mail to contact the sender. Customers who have not received an expected parcel should inform the sender, who then works with Canada Post. We encourage customers to check their mailbox regularly," Chartrand said.
“Somebody got a genuine interest in breaking into community mailboxes. … It’s scary,” said Craig Dyer, Canadian Union of Postal Workers St. John's chief shop steward.
Although mailbox break-ins have happened in the past, he said, a lot of the times it’s someone forgetting or losing their key and anxious for particular mail.
Watercooler talk has speculated on identity theft or other motives, and the thieves seem to be targeting outgoing mail and parcel compartments.
“People shift everything in the mail from cash to medication to heirlooms. There are an awful lot of opportunities out there,” Dyer said.
Dyer said the locks were upgraded in recent years. But that doesn’t mean they are like Fort Knox.
The break-ins coincidentally have coincided with the election season.
But Elections Newfoundland and Labrador told The Telegram it hasn't received any complaints or concerns from electors resulting from these break-ins.
"We have no reason to be concerned at this point in time. If an elector contacts us and believes that their kit is missing because their community mailbox had a break-in, we will check our system to verify that a kit was, in fact, mailed out to them. We will address any issues that arise on a case-by-case basis," a statement from Elections NL said.
The provincial Liberal party said in a statement it is not aware of any concerns about special ballots being affected from either Elections NL or Canada Post.
Graydon Pelley of the Newfoundland and Labrador Alliance hadn’t heard of any concerns, either.
Neither the Progressive Conservatives or the NDP responded with any concerns as of deadline.