Theft at area mailboxes under investigation

George Copeland Jr. | 10/8/2020, 6 p.m.
Postal and law enforcement officials are investigating a series of mailbox break-ins and thefts outside six area post offices.

Postal and law enforcement officials are investigating a series of mailbox break-ins and thefts outside six area post offices.

Officials believe the mailboxes were tampered with sometime between 3 a.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Monday, when the first reports were made.

As of Tuesday, investigators with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and other law enforcement agencies were working to find those responsible. While officials said they believe mail was stolen from the boxes, nothing has been confirmed about the full extent of the thefts or what was stolen and why.

The incidents happened at mailboxes outside one Richmond post office, two in Chesterfield County and three in Henrico County.

Their locations: Westhampton Post Of- fice at 805 Glenburnie Road, in Richmond; the Pocoshock Creek Post Office, 7501 Lady Blair Lane in North Chesterfield; the Midlothian Post Office,1201 Sycamore Square Drive, Midlothian; the Lakeside Post Office, 2100 E. Parham Road in Henrico; the Regency Branch Post Office, 2000 Starling Drive in Henrico; and the Glen Allen Post Office, 4990 Sadler Place.

The incidents come at a time when the U.S. Postal Service has faced a number of challenges and setbacks. The COVID-19 pandemic has more people relying on postal deliveries for critical items, including medicine, bills and mail-in ballots.

With the upcoming presidential election, more than 106,500 absentee ballots have been requested in Richmond, Henrico and Chesterfield, according to state election officials.

Thelma J. Hunt of Richmond, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 496, lamented the potential negative impact of the break-ins for postal workers and the public, and encouraged anyone who sees any similar incidents at mailboxes or post offices to alert authorities. She said members of the local union remain vigilant for any signs of tampering.

Fourth District Congressman A. Donald McEachin of Richmond also expressed concern. Last month, he and Congress- woman Abigail A. Spanberger of Henrico, toured the U.S. Postal Service Processing

and Distribution Center in Sandston after reports of operational changes nationally slowing mail delivery and jeopardizing the integrity of the election.

“I am deeply troubled by the reports of mail theft at multiple USPS drop-off boxes across the Richmond area,” Rep. McEachin said in a statement. “It is a shame that someone has chosen to compromise this important resource for our communities. Folks rely on these boxes to drop off bill payments, to send letters to friends and family and, of course this year, to mail in their absentee ballots.

“We do not yet know if absentee ballots were among the stolen mail or if these thefts were coordinated, but I am certain that USPS and the FBI will fully investigate these incidents.”

Anyone who dropped mail in the postal boxes at any of the six locations between 3 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Monday is asked to contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service hotline at (877) 876-2455.

Voters also can track their ballots online to see if it has been received by going to “Check my registration” at elections.virginia.gov/voterinformation.

A new ballot also can be requested from the local voter registrar’s office.