Mail thefts at a rural mobile home park west of Ceres have raised the ire of at least one resident who is tired of watching others lose their checks, medication and other post from their boxes.
“Mail has been stolen at the trailer park at least 16 times since May 2020,” reported eight-year resident Charles Fraser.
The problem has grown at Country Western Mobile Home Park at 4449 S. Carpenter Road since May 2020 when he installed video cameras, aimed straight at the row of mailboxes near the front of the park. Sixteen videos capturing individual thefts of mail have been posted to his YouTube channel.
“This is an over-55 community,” said Fraser. “Residents here receive medication that gets stolen. I’m guessing that Social Security checks and stimulus checks have been stolen as well. Somebody needs to help the people living here.”
Residents have asked the management company, Boa Vida, for a locked cluster box but were told that the Postal Service makes that determination.
“The Post Office said they will not install a lockable cluster box unless the mail carrier’s life is in danger,” said Fraser.
While some apartment complexes and mobile home parks provide secure mail buildings where residents have keyed access, Fraser said he doubts the owners would follow suit, adding, “They’re not eager to spend a ton of money on stuff.”
The park did replace Fraser’s mailbox with a lockable one because he rents a house at the site, not space for a mobile home. The company, however, did not replace any other mailboxes equipped with locks.
In one video, a man twisted the entire box off of its mount and swiped it.
Park manager Crissie Harris said she is not allowed to speak to the media on behalf of the owners but offered to pass the Courier’s inquiries onto the home office. No return calls were received call as of press deadline.
The thefts have been reported to the U.S. postal system and the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.
“Some were reported by me, personally and some were reported by the park manager. As far as I know, nobody has been arrested or charged. The videos show that at least a few of these are repeat offenders.”
Fraser believes the thieves live outside the park. On one occasion he walked the park to see if he could spot the same vehicles seen in his surveillance video and instead found a pile of mail – stolen elsewhere – dumped on the ground.
“They had stolen it from somewhere else, maybe went through it back there, dumped out what they didn’t want and hit these mailboxes,” said Fraser.
Most of the thefts have occurred in the dark of night or early morning. Other thefts have occurred during the day, typically moments after the mail was delivered. The videos show various vehicles rolling up to the row of boxes while the driver or a passenger reaches through a rolled-down window to begin opening each box and grabbing mail – often in less than 20 seconds.
Some of the offenders appear to be repeating the thefts. More than once a man in a dark-colored SUV drove up wearing a hoodie and mask to begin pulling mail out and throwing them onto his passenger seat.
On May 15, 2020, surveillance cameras captured a 4:37 a.m. pilfering of all 10 mailboxes by a woman who left every box open and flung one piece of mail, and kicking her foot in the air as an expression of disappointment. She then walked back to an awaiting dark-colored car.
Another video shot at 11:38 p.m. on Aug. 22, 2020, shows a white four-door car pulling up to the boxes as a passenger reaches through the window and begin taking several pieces of mail.
Fraser said his reports to the Sheriff’s Department have been met with “mixed results.” Some deputies take the CD he burns for them while others take a second generation snapshot with a cell phone camera.
“I’ve even had one or two of the deputies ask me why I was reporting this. And I look, ‘Because a crime was committed?” And he’s like, ‘Was your mail stolen?’ And I said no and he said, ‘I really need someone whose mail was stolen to report this.’ And I’m just thinking, ‘If I’m not being murdered but I see someone else being murdered, should I call you?”
The videos may be viewed on the YouTube channel of Charles Fraser at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbm96btANHcIAi4uYla-WsQ
The videos are also listed by date below:
May 15, 2020
August 22, 2020
August 30, 2020
March 23, 2021
March 30, 2021
May 15, 2021
May 17, 2021
May 19, 2021
June 1, 2021
June 5, 2021
October 4, 2021
October 24, 2021
November 11, 2021
November 23, 2021
December 14, 2021
December 18, 2021