Post office boxes attacked

William Thompson

For the second time in 90 days, the Tucumcari Post Office has reported a window broken on a post office box inside the post office lobby. Monday morning around 6:30 a.m. a post office employee notified Tucumcari Police of the latest break-in.

The postal official in charge of the Tucumcari Post Office, Rob Roark, referred all questions to Margaret Romero, marketing manager of the United States Postal Service in New Mexico.

Romero said postal inspectors sometimes notify local law enforcement.

“The Postal Inspection Service sometime notifies local police and sometimes they don’t,” said Romero. “The Postal Inspection Service handles all law enforcement matters for the postal service.”

Lt. Charles Newman of Tucumcari Police said notification of local police is merely a formality.

“We don’t have anything to do with the investigation of crimes that happen at the post office. The federal inspectors do all that,” he said. “All we can do is help keep an eye out.”
Romero said postal inspectors take vandalism of post office boxes seriously.

“It’s a very rare crime,” she said. “There are very stiff penalties for breaking into a post office box.”

According to the Postal Inspection Service web site, fines up to $250,000 can be assessed against someone who vandalizes a mailbox.

“Mailboxes are considered federal property. Violators can be fined up to $250,000 or up to three years imprisonment for each act of vandalism,” stated the information on the web site.

Inspector E. Guevara, of the Postal Inspection Service Albuquerque office, said postal inspectors are actively investigating the Tucumcari vandalism.

“We will use whatever means necessary to protect our assets, and our assets include our customers’ mail,” said Guevara. “We offer rewards to individuals who give us information leading to the conviction of someone vandalizing our post office boxes.”

Guevara said sometimes the vandalism is simply a juvenile prank.

“It’s very rare for boxes to be broken into,” she said, “but I encourage all postal customers to promptly remove all mail from the post office boxes and their mailboxes at home.”

Romero said all-metal post office boxes are available to patrons but the postal service has no plans to phase out the windowed boxes.

“Many people prefer the old style of post office box, and it’s very expensive to install new boxes,” she said. “The local postmaster can block the windows on the old-style boxes so people can’t see if there is any mail inside.”

The windows of boxes inside the Tucumcari Post Office are blocked. To report vandalism of a post office box, contact the local postmaster or call 1-505-346-8490.