HOUSTON - A large post office mail collection box was broken into in Houston just days before the election.
Post office inspectors are trying to track down who did it and how many pieces of mail may have been stolen.
It was a woman dropping off some mail for her parents who discovered the side of the mail collection box had been ripped open then taped together with packaging tape.
“The left-hand side of the mailbox had been completely ripped off,” said Michelle Goldfield who says she discovered the damaged box on Tuesday.
Goldfield snapped photos of the USPS mail collection box at the Westbury post office on Chimney Rock Road, showing the side had been bent open then taped back together. The mail drop slot had also been taped off.
“At that time I tried to complain to the post office, and she said she didn’t have time to file a complaint,” said Goldfield.
By Thursday the mail collection box was taped off with yellow caution tape. The US Postal Inspection Service tells Fox 26 it is working to identify those responsible for the vandalism while the USPS works to replace the box.
While it’s not clear when the incident happened, Goldfield says the box was intact when she dropped off mail last week.
She’s concerned about voter fraud.
“Different people’s election ballots are in there, and yeah I was a lot alarmed,” said Goldfield.
Postal inspectors say it’s unclear how many people’s mail was stolen.
“At this time, it is unknown how many pieces of mail were taken,” said Silvia Torres, U.S. Postal Inspector in Houston.
“To determine the scope of the issue, Postal Inspectors must rely on the reports by customers to identify any items taken following the vandalism. If you discover any issues with outgoing mail placed in this collection box, please report it to Postal Inspectors by calling 877-876-2455 and saying ‘Theft,’ or by visiting our website, even if you have already reported it to local law enforcement.”
The Harris County Clerk’s Office, which is collecting mail-in ballots, says voters should still feel safe mailing their ballots.
“We feel very confident in the safety and security of that,” said Roxanne Werner with the Harris County Clerk’s Office. “Also all of the ballots are marked as election mail, and so whether it be handled by Post Office staff, they do know that they’re handling election mail, and it’s very important.”
Werner says as long as your mail-in ballot is postmarked by Election Day and arrives at its destination by 7 p.m. on the day after Election Day, it will be counted. If it arrives two days after Election Day, it will not be counted.
If you are concerned about mailing your ballot, you can still drop your mail-in ballot off in person at NRG Arena Thursday night, Friday, or Monday, or you can turn it in and vote in person instead of on Election Day.
Harris County can track their mail-in ballots at this link.