By Douglas W. Motley
Continuing acts of vandalism have resulted in overnight closures at several mountain area post offices, including those in Lake Arrowhead and Cedar Glen.
A postal clerk at the Lake Arrowhead post office told The Alpine Mountaineer that the lobby, which had previously been open 24 hours, is now closed after regular business hours due to vandalism. He said there hadn’t been any break-ins or mail theft, just acts of vandalism, which he did not describe.
A clerk at the Cedar Glen post office said that regular weekday business hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. only and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The lobby, which until recently had been open 24 hours, is now locked and closed on Sundays and after regular business hours on all other days. When asked why, the clerk responded, “I’m not at liberty to discuss this, but it’s due to the same issues at the other post offices.”
When a clerk at the Blue Jay Post Office was asked whether it would also be locked up after hours, they only offered, “I’m not allowed to speak about it.”
Meanwhile, Crestline Postmaster Jeri-Lynn Miller wasn’t at all hesitant to discuss the problems afflicting the main post office on Lake Drive and its satellite branches in Valley of Enchantment and Cedarpines Park. Regarding a mail collection box outside the Valley of Enchantment substation – which had been broken into at least four times in the past six or so months – Miller said, “We had no reports of mail theft. That box was usually not used after mail had been picked up at 1:30 p.m.”
Miller said there had been numerous break-ins after the substation was locked up at night, resulting in broken windows and a broken glass double-door, but that there had been no reports of mail missing from indoor mailboxes.
Ever since the glass doors were pried open, said Miller, the locking mechanism has been inoperable, which has led to increased vandalism, such as overturned trash cans and what she described as “bodily fluids” being left on the floor. “I feel sorry for our poor clerk who has to go in there in the morning and clean up the mess,” she noted.
One recent customer said, “I’m afraid to go in there after I get off work late at night ever since I found a man, who smelled horrible, sleeping on the floor.”
Noting that she had just received a new outdoor mailbox to replace the damaged one, which has a non-repairable locking mechanism, Miller said the new box is not compatible with any of the locks she has on hand. “We have new locks on order and we should have them in a couple weeks.”
Miller said she has no plan at this time to lock the VOE substation after business hours, but that if the self-locking lock on the doors can’t be replaced, the clerk would have to lock them manually at 1:30 p.m., after the final mail delivery of the day. “I hope we don’t have to do that,” she said.
Miller advises postal customers to never discard letters that contain Social Security or credit card numbers or any sensitive personal information. She also encourages customers to be observant and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement. “If you see something, say something,” she said.