Garden Bay, Madeira Park and Halfmoon Bay residents have been hit by a spate of mailbox break-ins that have even included the sub-post office in Garden Bay where about a dozen private boxes were forced open.
Brazen thieves carried out most of the attacks from Dec. 4 through Dec. 9. In previous years, Sechelt, Tuwanek, Roberts Creek and Gibsons have been hit.
In the latest round of thefts, only one pick-up site went relatively unscathed on Camp Burley Road, Garden Bay, where the four larger package boxes were forced open.
It appears thieves used some kind of mechanical device to bend the securing tabs on the boxes. An illegal copy of a master key has been ruled out.
RCMP reported that the thefts started Dec. 4, when Canada Post reported community mailboxes located in the 11200 and 12200 blocks of Highway 101, Madeira Park, had been breached. It is unknown what has been stolen from the multi-residential mailboxes.
Then, on Dec. 7, Canada Post reported more community mailboxes broken into in the 5100 block of Garden Bay Road, at the intersection of Garden Bay Road and Roosen Road, the intersection of Oyster Bay Road and Garden Bay Road, as well as at Sunshine Coast Highway and Hallowell Road, Ruby Lake.
Two nights later, the Canada Post Office at 4907 Pool Lane in Garden Bay was hit. “The suspect pried open all the post boxes but it is unknown what has been stolen,” police said.
Overnight on Dec. 10, community mailboxes in Halfmoon Bay were targeted, with thieves gaining entry to boxes located in the 8000 to 8200 and 8800 blocks of Redrooffs Road and the intersection of Redrooffs Road and Fullerton Road.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Poppy Hallam said on Dec. 11: “We had a report this morning, so from what I see we have had 21 reports [involving 17 community mailboxes], which is consistent with years past and it looks like it might be a little more.
“Looking at 2018, the first year I was here as a commander, we had quite a few, about the same, and 2019 around the same but we had some hit in the summer of 2019, and this year the spike from Dec. 4 with 17 to now, which is a lot.
“I can tell you my general investigation section, sort of my major crime section, is on this.”
Hallam said it was not just older style community post boxes but even the new style ones were pried open. The investigation is active and they are following some leads.
“We’re hoping that the public can keep an eye as best they can. These community mailboxes are probably set up so as to cause the least amount of noise and disruption to homeowners that live right next door … but, at the same time, if a homeowner does live close and might see something … we’re asking the public to call 911 if they see somebody in the middle of the night, a vehicle, or something going on near a community post office box, do their best to get a licence plate for us and call it in as a crime in progress, a 911 call.”
Hallam said that with the number of mailboxes hit, “we have reason to believe that whatever somebody is doing in front of their mailbox is most likely nefarious at three in the morning.
“It’s most likely not you or I going to get our mail. It’s just not normal, that for us would be considered a crime in progress. We believe whoever is out there is trying, or will break into that mailbox. That is a 911 call.”
In an emailed response to Coast Reporter, Canada Post said it would be inappropriate to comment or provide details on the incidents, as the RCMP is investigating them.
“We take these matters and the security of the mail very seriously,” Canada Post spokesperson Nicole Lecompte said. “We are constantly monitoring and evaluating community mailbox sites, but … we don't divulge specific security measures or broader information related to our equipment publicly as doing so would hamper their effectiveness.”
Due to the break-ins, a number of community mailbox compartments are not operational. Lecompte said they would be repaired “as soon as possible.”
Until delivery resumes, she said, affected customers in Garden Bay can pick up their mail at the post office located at 4907 Poole Lane, which is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Affected customers in Madeira Park, Lecompte said, can pick up their mail at the post office located at 4976 Gonzales Rd. between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Mondays to Wednesdays and Fridays and between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays.