Vandals tamper with Hemet P.O. boxes

Yale Street post office has some 50 damaged post boxes

Chris Smith / The Valley Chronicle
A handwritten sign on the door of the Yale Street post office alerts patrons that the lobby no longer will be open after hours.

■ By Chris Smith / Advisory Editor

Box holders at the small U.S. Post Office near Yale Street and E. Florida Avenue adjacent to True Value Hardware will no longer have the convenience of retrieving their mail after hours. The reason? Someone has repeatedly broken into mailboxes.
Vandals don’t know or seem to care that they could go to federal prison for up to three years and fined $250,000 for breaking into a mailbox.
“It happened over a span of four weeks. And I believe it’s the same person each time,” said Conrad, lead sales associate at the post office at 1957 E. Florida Ave .
He said the break-ins happened sometime over the weekend when the counter was closed but access to the lobby was open, a convenience many patrons appreciated so they could get their mail at night or on weekends. Not the case any longer. Patrons will have to get their mail during regular business hours.
“It’s a shame,” said one patron. “People just don’t have any respect.”
Conrad said he suspects homeless people were coming into the post office lobby at night for shelter and to recharge their cell phones, which technically is theft of energy. There is an outlet in the lobby that can be accessed by anyone. No one is sure who is responsible for the break-ins, but they’re going to be barred from getting into the lobby after hours unless they decide to smash through the glass door.
Conrad said that it appeared about 50 boxes had been tampered with and, of those, perhaps 20 had mail in them. It’s not clear what was taken as there is no record of each piece of mail that is placed into every box.
Conrad said the vandalism has been reported to federal postal inspectors for further investigation.

Cathy Chick contributed to this story.

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