NORCROSS, Ga. - The United States Postal Service estimates Americans will send more than 15 billion pieces of mail through the federal system this holiday season, but some of those will fall through the cracks.
In Gwinnett County, investigators are blaming thieves.
"I'm 60 years old," said Lynda Freeman. "No, I didn't know not to put the mail in the box, I thought the box was safe."
Lynda Freeman is one of those mail theft victims.
Her 86 handwritten Christmas cards, that she spent hours fine-tuning, didn't make it to their destinations after a series of blue mailbox break-ins at the USPS location on Mitchell Road in Norcross.
Her hours of hard work had gone to waste.
"For Christmas, I usually go home to New York to visit my family, but because I'm on the transplant list, I have to remain within four hours of Piedmont Hospital," Freeman said. "So, this year I decided to send cards to everybody in the family."
Rather than using her home mailbox, she swung by the post office in an attempt to assure the cards' arrival -- a mistake, she said, she will never make again.
The United States Inspection Service confirmed they are looking into the break-ins but wouldn't provide exact dates for the criminal activity or say if residents would be reimbursed for stamps.
Notably, the Mitchell Road office isn't alone.
Earlier this year, police flat-out warned residents NOT to use the blue mailboxes at a Peachtree City Post Office.
FOX 5 viewers shared pictures with us, showing closed boxes at a Snellville shop.
Freeman's location eventually taped off its outdoor slots, and FOX 5 was there Tuesday, as the postal service removed the boxes entirely.
"They're old boxes, and these new thugs know how to get in them," Freeman said.
The Postal Inspection Service's top six tips to keep holiday packages secure include:
- 1) Don't leave delivered mail and packages unattended.
- 2) Going out of town? Hold mail at the local post office.
- 3) Plan ahead. Ship using Hold for Pickup.
- 4) Customize the delivery.
- 5) Secure the shipment using USPS Special Services.
- 6) Monitor your front door.