ARVIN, CA - The U.S. Postal Service is investigating several recent cases of mail theft in Arvin. Postal inspectors say Kern County is one of the highest mail crime areas in the country.
It's a technique known as 'fishing.' Postal inspectors say people use homemade devices that contain sticky material such as rat glue. It's then lowered into mail drop boxes or mail slots, to fish out mail.
"Unfortunately, many of the thefts are occurring in the post office itself. So, it's not something we can observe to see suspects of that nature," said Arvin Police Chief Louis Cobarruviaz. "We have no jurisdiction inside the post office."
Cobarruviaz says within the last month, 13 people have filed police reports, all victims of mail theft.
Minerva Rubio is one of them. She says she dropped off her truck payment in the mail drop box at the post office, but soon learned it was fished out. Rubio says with people stealing mail, it puts her on edge.
"I think maybe somebody open the box and take my money, my mail," Rubio said.
Postal inspectors say the fishing technique is a growing problem in the Central Valley.
Jeff Fitch with the U.S. Postal Service said, "They're stealing mail, taking stuff from our system and it is a federal offense. We are very concerned, so if people are aware that something has not been received or not made it, to contact our office and make a report."
Cobarruviaz says he believes it's an organized group not from Kern County, hoping to take advantage of smaller cities.
"Small agencies have very few resources and possibly because they assume in this county with so many migrant workers, that many of those people will not report the crime," said Cobarruviaz.
Postal inspectors say since the mail thefts, the post office has installed anti-fishing devices.
Officials will also be adding surveillance cameras inside Arvin's post office.
If you have information on these mail thefts, call the U.S. Postal Service at 1-877-876-2455.