New mailboxes were installed near the Meriden and Cheshire post offices to replace ones damaged by thieves recently.
In Meriden, mail was stolen from five boxes that were pried open. The boxes included two at the Center Street post office.
In Cheshire, two mailboxes in front of the post office on Maple Avenue were damaged in a similar incident, according to U.S. Post Office spokeswoman Maureen Marion.
The Postal Inspection Service is investigating the incidents. Tampering with US Postal Service property is a federal crime.
Meriden Postmaster Jack Colwell said the last of the new boxes will be installed this week.
“The box in front of the post office is back in service,” he said Friday.
The incidents occurred in Meriden overnight and were noticed by a maintenance man in the morning. There are no security cameras at the Center Street post office, but there could be at the other locations, Colwell said. There is talk of adding cameras at the postal center.
The boxes were replaced in Cheshire this week, according to that town’s post office.
Unlike the old style with a pull-out drawer for mail, the new mailboxes only have a small slot for letters. Marion said it’s harder for thieves to break into but might be inconvenient for those with larger letters or a stack of letters.
“This has been foisted upon us (by) this criminal activity,” she said.
There is sometimes confusion about the new boxes.
“There’s nothing to open,” Marion said. “We have seen people put their fingers into the slot trying to open them.”
The Postal Inspection Service is evaluating locations for the secure boxes. They cost about $800 apiece in addition to the installation.
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