Sterling Highway mail thefts investigated

Posted: Friday, January 03, 2003

Alaska State Troopers and U.S. postal authorities are investigating reports of mail being stolen from rural boxes along Sterling Highway near Longmere Lake.

One resident, Cyndy Gagnon, said the thefts have been ongoing for about one month and have included the theft of checks, which were cashed locally.

"I first noticed something wrong about a month ago when I didn't get any mail for three days," said Gagnon.

"I usually get something -- junk mail or something -- every day," she said.

Gagnon also said some of her mail was found on the floor inside a portable toilet near the Longmere Lake Grocery store, across from where the rural mail boxes stand.

Trooper Capt. Tom Bowman, commander of the E Detachment in Soldotna, said troopers have received several reports of the mail thefts.

He said troopers are investigating, and while they have no suspects as yet, they are looking at security camera pictures of people obtained from businesses where checks have been cashed.

Postal authorities are investigating as well, said Soldotna Post-master Margaret Merrill.

Merrill recommends people pick up their mail on a daily basis, "especially during the holidays and on the first of the month."

Bowman also said people should check their mail boxes often.

"Neighborhood Watch is also a good thing," said Bowman.

"They can help by reporting anyone loitering around mail boxes."

Gagnon said residents also have looked into getting a locking mail box structure for the rural location, but found the cost would be $1,600 for a 16-unit box.

"With pouring concrete for the installation, it comes to about $150 each for a one-time charge," she said.

Merrill said for highway contract patrons, that cost must be paid by the customers. She also said customers could rent postal boxes at either the Soldotna or Sterling post offices.

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