RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — A mailbox bandit is on the loose after surveillance cameras caught him using a postal key to steal from local businesses in Riviera Beach near West Palm Beach, the second time in six weeks where thieves have targeted the same mailbox cluster.
A federal investigation is underway to track the latest thief down.
It happened overnight Monday at the Woodbine Commons Plaza along Military Trail.
"It would have flown under the radar if not for capturing it on camera because nobody would have known," said Joe Conway, owner of Praetas Technologies.
On Tuesday, Conway woke up to several notifications on his cellphone notifying him that someone was lurking right outside his business overnight.
"And this is when he goes outside of the mailbox," Conway said.
His newly mounted surveillance camera was rolling as a thief walked up and opened every mailbox with his own key.
"He goes into the outgoing mail and then he unlocks the tenant side and starts taking out incoming mail that wasn’t picked up."
After 2 1/2 minutes the brazen burglar is seen stuffing a backpack with several pieces of mail and he’s gone.
Last month surveillance cameras caught another suspect pulling into the parking lot and moments later he’s seen walking back to his cargo van with a handful of mail and packages.
"These people really need to be caught and prosecuted and shown that this isn’t something to mess around with it’s a federal crime to steal this stuff," said Conway.
The United States Postal Inspection Service is investigating the theft and urges anyone with information to call 877-876-2455.
To help prevent mail theft officials suggest the following:
• Don’t let incoming or outgoing mail sit in your mailbox for long periods of time. You can significantly reduce the chance of being victimized by removing your mail from your mailbox every day.
• Hand outgoing mail to your letter carrier, or mail it at the Post Office, an official blue USPS collection box on the street before the last daily pickup time, or a secure receptacle at your place of business.
• Consider starting a neighborhood watch program. By exchanging work and vacation schedules with trusted neighbors, you can watch each other’s mailboxes and residences.
• Keep an eye out for your letter carrier. If you see something that looks suspicious, or you see someone following your carrier, call 911.