Thieves steal mail from Hayward residents 9 times so far this year
HAYWARD, Calif. - A group of residents in Hayward are fed up about thieves stealing their mail over and over again – and they are at wit's end about what to do about it.
Neighbors at The Reserve have counted nine times since January that groups of people have ransacked their bank of mailboxes on Vista Grande Drive to take whatever is inside: Packages, a credit card that was used to charge $2,000, as well as bank and tax information.
"I've had packages, my mail stolen," Bevi Kothare said. "And nothing happens."
Recently, at their own expense, the neighbors installed metal bars across the boxes, which are outside on the sidewalk.
But the suspects cut through the rods and took the mail anyway. The sound of metal being sawed was captured on one of the neighbor's Nest videos.
The residents of the complex have banded together, documenting the thefts by date and with surveillance video, capturing images of the suspects as well as the license plate of the cars they drive. They believe there are a few groups involved, as there have been at least two different cars that have been spotted on surveillance video.
The videos collected by the neighbors show various scenes.
On one occasion, a light-colored Hyundai car pulls up, two women get out, look through the mailboxes, and then get the help of two men in the car, who then open up the boxes and pull out packages and letters.
In another video, two men approach the mailboxes on foot, also taking the materials inside.
In another, the suspects pull up in a light-colored Audi. And in a video from February, a man with a ski mask pulls up in a Ford Escape to pilfer through the boxes and take the mail.
By the residents' accounting, the thefts have occurred on Jan. 18, Feb. 5, 7, 22 and twice on Feb. 25. The thefts also occurred on March 10, 14, and the most recent on Wednesday, which is when the suspects cut the bars protecting the boxes, according to neighbor Steve Wiberg.
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But Hayward police have told them there's nothing they can do. Stealing mail is a federal crime.
The residents have filed at least two reports with the US Postal Service, both of which were reviewed by KTVU.
No arrests have been made and no solutions have been worked out to prevent the thefts in the future.
In an interview, Postal Inspector Jeff Fitch acknowledged the residents' frustrations – thefts of mailboxes as well as robberies of mail carriers are up.
Just this week, the US Postal Service held a news conference highlighting the problem and the dangers for their workers.
In fact, a mail carrier on the route for The Reserve was robbed on March 13.
"Mail thefts is up across the Bay Area," Fitch said. "We're having robberies at gunpoint and people are making counterfeit keys."
He said that mail investigators are actively working cases in Hayward, although he couldn't divulge specifics.
Residents have been trying to brainstorm on how to both catch the thieves and prevent future mailbox break-ins.
But so far, they haven't come up with an answer.
"We've been kicking around ideas to combat this," Kothare said. "But we shouldn't have to."
A man with a ski mask and who drove a Ford Escape pilfers through the mail at The Reserve in Hayward. Feb. 7, 2023
A light-colored Hyundai drives off after a mail theft at The Reserve in Hayward. March 22, 2023
Surveillance video shows two women trying to get into the mail boxes at The Reserve in Hayward on March 14, 2023
Surveillance video shows a man taking mail at The Reserve in Hayward on March 14, 2023