Sudbury police investigating 137 community mailbox break-ins

Greater Sudbury Police say they now have 137 complaints of community mailbox break-ins in Valley East, Garson and Wahnapitae.

Garson, Valley East and Wahnapitae see rise in number of break-ins, parcel thefts

This photo of mailbox break-ins in the Jeanne D'Arc area of the Valley was taken January 2, 2020 by a nearby resident who has been keeping tabs on the mailboxes. (Patrick Belanger)

Greater Sudbury Police say they now have 137 complaints of community mailbox break-ins in Valley East, Garson and Wahnapitae.

Spokesperson Kaitlyn Dunn says all reports deal with access to the large parcel compartments.

She says, to her knowledge, there haven't been any reports of personal mail being taken.

But Patrick Belanger wonders if that's all there is to it.

Belanger lives in a subdivision called Dominion Park in the Valley.

He's been monitoring the break-ins at his local mailboxes and he's finding the personal mail slots have been broken open repeatedly.

Belanger has been taking pictures of the break-ins and tracking his own mail just in case.

"I feel violated," Belanger said. "I feel that, first of all, that my identity could be in jeopardy."

"I just had insurance papers go through there, all kinds of stuff," Belanger said. "Now with tax season coming we could be having tax information stolen from us. Social insurance numbers and God knows what else."

Belanger says, so far, he doesn't think any of his letters have been taken.

Jeff Thomson is a senior RCMP intelligence analyst with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Jeff Thomson with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says stealing mail is one way criminals harvest information for identity theft.

"We hear a lot about data breaches," Thomson said. "But certainly people having their mail stolen does come through in terms of identity theft reporting, where somebody said I'm not getting my mail and my I.D. been compromised."

"It's certainly one of the signs of I.D. theft, too, when your bills and statements don't arrive in the mail when they're supposed to. So it's something to pay attention for."

Thomson said mail can often have identifying information on it, like names, address, telephone number and even account numbers. He said it can give criminals a "little bit of additional information" they can use to commit identity fraud.

He recommends that people check their credit reports from Equifax and TransUnion which might identify fraud accounts in your name.

In a letter to customers, Canada Post says it doesn't track individual letters and can't be sure whether or not personal mail has been stolen.

It suggests that if a customer suspects mail has been taken to contact the sender

Canada Post says it's working with police to figure out what is happening and is doing all it can to keep mail safe.

However, it says it can't reveal its security measures because it would undermine its effectiveness.

With files from Kate Rutherford