HOUSTON - The security video was taken last week around 4 a.m. inside Westview Manor, a gated neighborhood off of Westview Drive. According to homeowners in Westview Manor, they have been mysteriously missing mail for weeks.
“People are giving their stories on how they have had their identities stolen and credit lines taken out on their behalf,” said Brian Kohl, a neighborhood board member.
“I used to leave my mail here for a week,” said Olu Jolaoso, a homeowner. “Now, I come multiple times a day just to check.”
According to Kohl, the neighborhood board recently installed new cameras recently to see where the mail is going. Last week, two people were recorded using a key to open the mailboxes. The thieves spent about four minutes carrying loads of mail into a red Lexus.
“They have a master key or something,” said Julaoso. “They’re cleaning out our mail.”
“It didn’t look like they’re professionals at this,” said Kohl. “The master key will open the entire box. So, the entire will hinge open, leaving exposed all of the mail from everybody.”
Homeowners believe the thieves used the same key to open the neighborhood’s security gate.
“It’s quite clear the same key got them into the vehicular gate, as well as got them in the mailbox here,” said Kohl. “This is not a one community occurrence. From what I’ve heard on the Postal Service side, they have a lot of missing keys.”
“What can the post office do about it?”, asked Julaoso. “How can we feel protected that our mail gets delivered and someone doesn’t come and override the system.”
A spokesperson from the United States Postal Service provided the written statement below Friday afternoon.
“The USPIS is aware of the reports of mail theft in the Westview Manor complex and is actively investigating them,” said Silvia Torres, a U.S. Postal Inspector. “To protect the integrity of the investigation, the USPIS cannot provide additional details regarding the specifics of the investigation. In regards to the reports of a “master key” being used during the thefts, the U.S. Postal Service does not have a key designated with the name “master key.”
USPS recommends promptly removing mail from the mailbox after delivery and not allowing it to remain overnight or to accumulate. If a customer believes their mail has been stolen, they should file a report with the USPIS by calling 877-876-2455. Mail theft is a federal and state crime punishable by fines and/or prison time.