Thieves targeting community mailboxes, postal workers warn


Peter Godor's community mailbox has become a target for thieves.

At least four times in the past two years his postbox in Edmonton's Griesbach neighbourhood has been broken into.

Godor says Canada Post has changed the locks repeatedly but, again and again, thieves have returned to pry open the doors and pillage through letters and packages. 

"Over the last year, increasingly, our community mailbox is broken into more and more frequently," Godor said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. 

"It takes a lot of force. It looks like they actually hammered it in with a crowbar." 

Canada Post confirmed that there have been multiple mailbox thefts in the Griesbach area but declined to comment further, citing an ongoing police investigation.

According to the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), community mailboxes across the country have become targets for thieves and vandals.

"We've kind of lost track of how many times this has actually happened," said Roland Schmidt, president of CUPW's Edmonton local.

"When you remove mail delivery from people's individual residences and move it a distant location, it's just going to raise the probability of people tampering with them."

'Something that Canadians don't want'

Since 2014, about 840,000 households had their door-to-door delivery halted. Residents get their mail from community boxes instead.

The plan, brought in as a cost-saving measure under the previous Conservative government, was to convert some five million addresses. It caused a massive public backlash; seniors, people with disabilities and others were angry about the changes.

The Liberal government scrapped the conversion plans in 2018 but the majority of Canadians now receive their mail through community boxes. 

The Crown corporation delivers to 16.4 million addresses across Canada, and 33 per cent of them now receive their mail and parcels in community mailboxes. Another 27 per cent of addresses get mail through a group mailbox that is privately owned, such as in apartment buildings or seniors' homes.

The corporation's bottom line has taken precedence over security of service, Schmidt said. 

"You can't take it too personally that they're trying to get as much profitability out of their company as possible and the way to do that is to reduce door-to-door delivery," he said.

"They're not going to acknowledge the complications that arise with switching over to the community mailbox model, even though it's arguably quite unnecessary and something that Canadians don't want."