A resident in Surrey, B.C., says his mail delivery has been suspended and he has had to drive to pick up his mail after his community mailbox was broken into more than a week ago. 

Bob Sterling has been getting his mail from a community mailbox, or super boxmail, for more than a decade without any problems. Earlier this month, however, his box was targeted by thieves. 

A few days later, he and his neighbours received a handwritten note from Canada Post telling them they had to pick up their mail in Cloverdale nearly 20 kilometres away. 

"What if you had to take a bus that far? That would be a half-day process," said Sterling.

To make matters worse, Sterling says Canada Post will not tell him or his neighbours if they have actually received any mail, or when their regular mail delivery will resume.

Canada Post said Cloverdale was the closest depot to Sterling, but admits it could have handled the situation differently.

"It's certainly not the way we want to communicate with customers, but you can appreciate we're trying to secure the mail at the same time," said Canada Post spokesperson Anick Losier.

Losier said the postal service is working to resolve the problem, but cannot say when Sterling and his neighbours will have their mail delivered again.

Community mailboxes an ongoing problem

Canada Post announced in December it will be phasing out door-to-door mail delivery of regular mail to urban residents over the next five years. Instead, Canadians will have to get their mail from community mailboxes.

Since the announcement, the issue of mailbox security has been a growing concern. B.C. has the highest rate of community mailbox tampering in the country, with over 5,000 incidents recorded between 2008 and 2013.

The postal service says it has been working to address the issue by installing anti-theft devices on mailboxes, replacing problem boxes with higher security boxes, and expanding its use of so-called bait mail to capture thieves.

Ultimately, however, Canada Post says community mailbox tampering remains relatively rare across the country.

With files from CBC's Robert Zimmerman