ORO VALLEY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It could be an electric bill, a credit card payment or a birthday card to a loved one that is now in the hands of a criminal.
The Oro Valley Police Department said it was reported the collection boxes at the post office on La Canada Drive were broken into, with all the mail stolen Tuesday morning.
Postal Inspector Dan Grossenbach, with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said it is extremely rare' for a criminal to be successful in breaking into the boxes.
"There's security, physical hardware, that's designed just for these anti-theft purposes and so it makes it that much more egregious, and that's why we really want to get the people responsible," Grossenbach.
Tuesday, there were signs taped to the collection boxes, warning customers that mail was stolen and to report if they believe they may have been a victim.
"Oro Valley as a whole is a very safe community," said Irene Constantakis, who was dropping off mail Tuesday afternoon. "It's a shock to find out, how did they get in?"
Grossenbach said it appeared the suspect or suspects got into the box by forced entry, but did not know if any tools were used to help. He said there are surveillance cameras at nearly all locations, but is working with Oro Valley Police for video and other evidence.
"People trust the mail to send their precious things so there's all sorts of different things in the mail and so the bad guys capitalize on that by trying to exploit the system to get the mail out for their own criminal needs," said Grossenbach.
Those who believe they may have been a victim, are urged to call 1-877-876-4255 to report to USPS. Grossenbach said it is also important to check any financial statements and be mindful of what may have been sent, and when.
Mail theft is charged as a federal offense. Conviction of any federal crime, even mail theft, can result in significant federal prison time and fines.
"It's a tragedy all along the way because people trust it and then the bad guys exploit it," said Grossenbach.
The incident, now a lesson for resident Irene Constantakis, who may leave the convenience of her car the next time she's at the post office.
Grossenbach said other ways to be sure mail is sent, safely, is to hand it to a carrier or go inside the office to it drop-off.
"I might drop a few dollars in the mail in a card to my grandchildren, but I'll think about it next time," said Constantakis. "I feel sorry for them if they have to resort to pulling mail out of mail boxes, you know, it's sad."