Some Langley thieves have found a way around the new harder-to-rob Canada Post community mailboxes.
Rather than try to pry individual units open, they stole the whole mailbox, using a flatbed truck to knock down three Canada Post community mailboxes on a rarely-traveled rural street around midnight Tuesday.
An eyewitness, who declined to be named, told the Times that three vehicles — the truck, a minivan and a sedan, were involved in the theft at the community mailbox site on the 20 Avenue side road near 208 Street.
“They just backed the flatbed into it,” the witness said.
The impact snapped the mailboxes off their bases, and the thieves were in the process of loading them when they saw the witness and fled, leaving two of the three mailboxes on the ground.
The witness said police retrieved the two mailboxes left behind.
On Wednesday, the location was strewn with debris, including some newspaper drop-off boxes that had also been knocked down.
Dallas Burns, who lives down the street from the site, was disturbed to see how the boxes had been attached to their concrete base.
While larger exterior bolts were used to attach the base of the mailboxes to the concrete pad that served as their foundation, the boxes were attached to the base with much smaller bolts that were hidden from view until they were snapped off by the impact of the truck.
“Pathetic,” Burns said as he picked one of the shattered smaller bolts off the ground.
“You can see that they just bolted it down with a 10-cent screw. This is as cheap as you can get.”
When Canada Post rolled out the new design in 2014, a handout from the Crown corporation said the new-look 164-centimetre-tall unit boxes has a “new kind of secure lock” and “securely attached to a concrete foundation.”
In response to a Times query, Canada Post spokesperson Phil Legault said the Crown corporation is taking steps to “deter and stop” mailbox thieves.
“While we will not provide specifics, our efforts involve everything from reviewing the design, upgrading and modifying our equipment, to monitoring and working closely with police,” Legault said.
Asked if there have been other instances of trucks being used to steal entire mailboxes, Legault said “as the RCMP is investigating this incident, it would be inappropriate to comment further on any details.”
Langley, which has many community mail boxes located in rural areas where there is little surveillance, was the mail theft “hot spot” in the Lower Mainland and even Canada for a number of years, with as many as 20 mail thefts a night.
In many cases, the multiple thefts were the result of single, prolific offenders and the theft rate dropped with their arrest.
The switch to newer, heavy-duty community mail boxes reduced mail theft substantially, with just 20 reported incidents in in a six-month period.
After the federal election that saw the federal Liberal take over, Canada Post announced it was freezing its plan to end door-to-door mail delivery for hundreds of thousands of additional households and switch them to community mailboxes.
The Crown corporation said it was “temporarily suspending” the deployment pending discussions with the incoming Liberal government on how “to determine the best path forward given the ongoing challenges faced by the Canadian postal system.”
The Liberals promised they would study and potentially reverse the shift away from home delivery.
The government is reviewing two reports, one from a task force it created and one from the House of Commons government operations committee. It is expected to make a decision by the end of this year.
The committee’s report recommended continuing the freeze on converting people to community mailboxes as well as returning door-to-door delivery to those who lost it after the 2015 election campaign began.
According to the report, 830,000 addresses have been moved to community mailboxes to date, saving the post office $80 million annually.
For the first three quarters of 2017, Canada Post reported a profit before tax of $13 million, compared to a loss before tax of $15 million for the same period in 2016.
The turnaround was said to be the result of sustained growth in the parcel business made possible by Canada Post’s move into e-commerce.