A normally quiet street in Walnut Grove has been under siege by identity thieves, who have broken into the community mailbox more than six times in recent months, not just stealing mail but completely taking over the identities of residents there, and racking up fake credit card bills to the tune of $100,000.
“It’s been absolutely crazy,” said Trudy Larouche who lives on the street. From the mailbox theft, her husband’s identity was stolen, credit cards made in his name and used, their email accounts hacked and more.
“We even had to change our phone number.”
The community box at 93A Avenue and 204 Street has been broken into at least six times in the past five months. At least six people who live on the dead end street have had their identity compromised.
“This is sophisticated. They even created phony driver’s licences,” she said.
The community box currently has a notice on it from Canada Post indicating to residents that the box has been broken into, and that residents are to pick up their mail at the Cloverdale post office.
“That, of course, is a ridiculous request for those of us who work. How would we do that?”
Larouche, along with other neighbours, has been hounding Canada Post for months, asking it to change the mailbox to a new superbox.
“I couldn’t even get anyone to talk to me, but then I was transferred to someone in New Brunswick.”
The neighbourhood wasn’t getting anywhere with Canada Post until Tuesday morning, when Larouche received a call back from the Canada Post manager in Surrey.
“He had nothing on file about our break- ins, but did say he hoped to get us a new box in a month or so,” she said.
The new super mailboxes have been installed in many Langley locations, following a raft of mail theft in this area in the past year.
In the meantime, he warned that thieves, like bears feeding on garbage once, will always return if there is plenty of mail to be found.
“It’s a really good reminder to empty the mailbox everyday,” she said.
The new mailboxes have been popping up all over Langley.
“We will replace approximately 1,500 community mailboxes. The cost of each CMB is approximately $750,” said Marnie Armstrong of Canada Post.
With regards to the door-to-door conversions to community mailboxes, it will take Canada Post five years to complete the change over of five million addresses in this country.
“We are underway with the first 100,000 addresses,” said Armstrong. None are in B.C.
Langley Township Councillor Steve Ferguson, whose community box in Fernridge was broken into 10 times, pressured Canada Post to start installing the super boxes in Langley.
He has since gone on to try and stop the change over from door-to-door conversion to community boxes.
His request made its way to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention this week in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
FCM has been in contact with Canada Post and have been assured that consultation will take place with local governments before the conversion, and the needs of seniors and persons with disabilities will be considered.
“Our mail delivery and mail security is an absolute priority for Canadians, Langley residents, not unlike any resident in the country, care about their mail protection and identity security,” said Ferguson. “If Canada Post is going to change the way they do business, citizens need to know the new process.”