EVERETT — Nuts and bolts are all that remain of a mail collection box at the post office hub in south Everett. Across the city, duct tape, cones and an “Out of Order” sign are keeping another collection box closed in north Everett.
Vandals — not budget cuts or political interference — have shuttered both boxes, according to officials from the United States Postal Service.
Overflowing mail was reported at the Hardeson Road postal hub where one mail box was removed due to damage. At the Hoyt Avenue post office, the lone blue collection box is out of use after someone tried to pry it open over a week ago.
Tampering and damages to the collection boxes aren’t uncommon according to John Wiegand, a postal inspector with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, but he said the closures are part of an uptick in incidents in south Snohomish County including Everett and Lynnwood.
“We had several boxes in that area vandalized in the last three months,” Wiegand said.
It appears that no mail was stolen from either collection box, Wiegand said, but investigations are ongoing.
Inspection Services will work with postal officials to recommend solutions that may deter crime, he said. Normally, this includes installing newer boxes, retrofitting boxes, changing the location or removing optical barriers that make it easier for vandalism to occur, although it was unclear if any of these steps will occur in Everett.
USPS spokesperson Ernie Swanson said in an email that new collection boxes have been ordered, but there is no timeline for the replacements to be installed. Swanson said he did not believe national discussion surrounding USPS had any connection to the restoration.
In addition to the year-round, proactive work deterring mail theft, Wiegand said inspectors are working to inform people of the best ways to protect against mail theft ahead of an election where mail security has been scrutinized.
“If it is after the last collection, don’t put your mail in a box, put it in an interior box if you can,” he said. “Pick up your mail as soon as you can. … That is the best way to prevent mail theft…to not even give the thieves the opportunity.”
Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3448; email@example.com; Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard.
Ian Davis-Leonard reports on working class issues through Report for America, a national service program that places emerging journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. To support Ian’s work at The Daily Herald with a tax-deductible donation, go to www.heraldnet.com/support.