Reseda homeowner Mark McCaw was taking his dog Bailey on a morning walk on Valerio Street when he made the unusual discovery – a mound of discarded mail, dumped in the gutter.
"You could tell somebody had rifled through it," McCaw said.
When he looked more closely, he saw Christmas cards and bank statements, addressed to homes several miles away in Woodland Hills.
"Shocking," said Dennis Dudley, a resident of that block. "We've been having such many problems with mail theft here over the past five years that I'm not surprised."
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The mailboxes for Dudley's house and his neighbors are at the end of a long driveway, alongside the avenue, out of view of the homes.
Dudley had tried posting security cameras, and getting a new, more secure mailbox with a slot and protective plate. He said it appeared a thief had forced through the slot.
His next-door neighbor, whose mail turned up on Valerio, had previously contacted the Postal Inspection Service, Dudley said. But to his knowledge the case was never solved.
Dudley expressed gratitude at least one batch had been found. And he and neighbors should have it returned shortly. The letter carrier in McCaw's neighborhood took custody of the recovered mail, with the assurance it would be delivered again.
McCaw posted the episode on the Nextdoor social app.
Several of the comments it drew recommended the USPS "Informed Delivery" program, which notifies mail recipients which letters have been processed and are due to be delivered.
As part of the processing, digital photos are taken, and emailed to those who have signed up for the program.
"We're going to check into that," said McCaw.
The program was launched in 2017 as a convenience for recipients awaiting a specific item, said John Hyatt, a United States Postal Service spokesman. But many see usefulness after a theft in determining what specifically was taken.
"I'd like to know what's coming, whether it makes it or not," Dudley said. "Sounds like a good idea."