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Rising Vandalism of U.S. Mailboxes Under Inquiry

November 16, 1989

A rash of mailbox vandalism in La Canada Flintridge has prompted U.S. postal inspection officials to step up investigation of the problem.

In the last six months, 40 incidents of mailbox vandalism have been reported to the U.S. Postal Service, according to La Canada Flintridge Postmaster Penny Stevenson.

"But that number is even higher," Stevenson said. "Many of these crimes go unreported."

U.S. Postal Service spokesman John Conte said, "The area has recently been plaqued with the destruction of mailboxes with clubs or baseball bats or similar instruments."

Postal Inspector Donald Obritsch termed this type of vandalism "mailbox baseball. Kids ride around in a pickup truck or convertibles and strike the mailboxes," he said.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement division of the U.S. Postal Service, has been called in to step up the investigation. This includes notifying high school teachers and parents of the problem and punishment involved. In addition, postal inspectors "home in on a few suspects," Obritsch said.

"We already have some leads and other information that we hope will result in some arrests soon," he said.

Obritsch said officials are concerned about the recent increase in mailbox destruction because the trend has not declined as expected following the usual rash of neighborhood vandalism during Halloween.

Destruction of mailboxes is considered a federal offense and carries a penalty of up to $10,000 or 10 years in jail or both.

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