'Nobody steals my bills so they can pay them': Edmonton man finds community mailbox open, empty

​An Edmonton man says he's concerned about identity theft after he arrived at his community mailbox to find the front panel open and no mail inside.

'We apologize for this unacceptable incident and are following up ... to ensure it doesn't happen again'

'The entire panel was wide open'

4 years ago
Husni al-Khateeb is worried about identity theft after finding his community mailbox unlocked Tuesday. 1:02

An Edmonton man says he's concerned about identity theft after he arrived at his community mailbox to find the front panel open and no mail inside. 

"It was totally cleaned out," said Husni al-Khateeb, who hadn't checked his mail for a week but believes there should have at least been some flyers in his space, or one of the nine others, on Tuesday afternoon. 

"Nothing is there," he said. "That's impossible."

The community mailbox, located near 83rd Street and 157th Avenue, is made up of three separate units.

Only one — the one that he uses — was left open, al-Khateeb said. 

The unit also has a slot for posting letters and a space for parcels.

Identity theft

He called Canada Post to report the incident at around 1:45 p.m., right after he found the box open.

By 3:30 p.m., the front panel was closed, al-Khateeb said.

He said he also shared his concerns about identity theft with Canada Post, and was told he'd receive a call back within 24 hours. 
Husni al-Khateeb is concerned about identity theft after he found his community mailbox open and empty on Tuesday. (CBC)

"What is the cost of having your identity stolen or somebody else using it? What's the cost of losing your privacy?" al-Khateeb said. 

"This is what people do, why they steal mail," he added. "Nobody steals my bills so they can pay them."

Mail for his wife and three children could also have been waiting, meaning it's not just him who could be vulnerable, al-Khateeb said.

"I have to figure out exactly what should have been in the mail or what was coming in the mail up until the Friday before the long weekend," he said.

While he uses e-billing for Internet, cable and wireless services, he still gets hard copies of his utility bills and mail from the federal and provincial governments.

The front panel of the community mailbox off 83rd Street, just south of 157th Avenue, was open when Husni al-Khateeb went to check his mail on Tuesday. (Husni al-Khateeb)

He said everyone who posted or receives mail at that community mailbox should be worried.

In an email, Canada Post spokesperson Darcia Kmet said the community mailbox was not broken into — one of the panels was left open.

"Our local operations responded to the request and retrieved mail that was exposed from the site until the panel could be secured. Mail was delivered later yesterday," Kmet said.

"We apologize for this unacceptable incident and are following up internally to ensure it doesn't happen again."

But as of Wednesday afternoon, al-Khateeb said he hasn't got any mail back. He's expecting anything from doctor's notes to bank statements and job offers in the mail. 

He'd also like a direct apology from Canada Post. 

​"Nobody has contacted me. I haven't heard from anybody," al-Khateeb said Wednesday.

"I'm hoping at least somebody acknowledges what happened. I would really appreciate a call from Canada Post just explaining what happened."

High priority

Kmet said if someone sees an open community mailbox panel, they should call customer service at Canada Post.

The call is then deemed high priority, and Canada Post will send someone to close the panel as quickly as possible, Kmet said.

Edmonton police warn that documents with personal information could be used by others for criminal purposes like fraud.

"Stolen mail is one way that criminals obtain this information," Edmonton police spokesperson Carolin Maran said in an email. 

Signs that you may be a victim of fraud include: being contacted by a creditor or someone claiming to be a creditor regarding unfamiliar applications and claims, being contacted by a collections agency about accounts that you did not open, longer receiving your mail, or receiving a mail re-direct notice when you did not initiate one. 

If you believe that your personal information has been compromised, report the incident to police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.