Ramona residents are concerned about the theft of their important personal information after an unknown suspect pried open two large mailboxes in one neighborhood, stealing the mail inside.
Vandals ripped the back part of the mailboxes located near Matlin Road, possibly gaining access to items like credit cards, pay stubs and medical information. On Wednesday night, the mailboxes remained damaged, a note from the U.S. Postal Service left taped to the metal, alerting residents of the vandalism and theft.
The note said, for now, residents would have to drive nearly 20 minutes to the nearest post office to pick up their mail.
Residents, including Teresa O’Donnell, told NBC 7 Wednesday night that they’re worried about their vital information landing in the hands of thieves.
“What we’re worried about is the credit card companies, they send these blank checks with you information on them, so that’s what I’m concerned about,” O’Donnell said.
She said she remembers seeing an unknown man hovering extremely close to the mailboxes down the street from her home Tuesday night, looking as if he was trying to pull something out.
On Wednesday morning, as O’Donnell headed to work, she saw the metal on the mailboxes had been twisted and there was mail lying all over the ground. The back of one mailbox was completely ripped off, while the other was pried and badly damaged.
At that moment, O’Donnell said she realized the man she had seen the night before may have been the culprit behind the vandalism. She said the stranger was wearing shorts, a white T-shirt and a hat.
“It’s a huge violation,” exclaimed O’Donell. “I work my butt off. [I] have an hour commute and work like the dickens to pay taxes and someone comes along and ruins our box and has access to our personal information.”
At this time, Ramona residents said they don’t know what, if anything, was stolen from their mailboxes.
The incident remains under investigation.
On Thursday, the U.S. Postal Service released the following statement to NBC 7:
"The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is aware of this incident and are actively investigating it. Theft of mail is in violation of 18 USC 1708 and anyone caught will be charged with a federal crime. It will assist our investigation if you please put in the article to contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to report any mail theft or any tips at 1-877-876-2455 or they can go online and file a report at https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/."
Neighbor Vicki Davis told NBC 7 she’s worried for everyone living in the area.
“Nowadays you're going from paycheck to paycheck anyway and someone gets all that information. Pretty soon your bank is drained and you have credit cards you don’t know about. It could devastate your family,” she lamented.
Residents said they want investigators to track down the thief and bring that person to justice.
“I want someone to get in trouble for this,” said O’Donnell.
Meanwhile, on Sunday night, NBC 7 reported a similar crime in an Eastlake neighborhood. There, on River Rock Road, the metal backing to some mailboxes was also pried open, the mail also stolen.
The Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) is investigating that crime. If mail was stolen, both cases will be considered federal offenses.