Mail theft spree hits East Melbourne, with culprit caught on camera

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Brendan Rees

A spike in mailbox thefts has left East Melbourne residents on high alert, as CCTV footage emerged of an entire apartment complex being hit up to three times a week.

Inner City News has been provided the footage from the Wellington Gardens complex, after their mailboxes, located externally on Wellington Crescent, Wellington Parade South and Cliveden Close, had been targeted.

On one occasion, the footage showed a woman wearing a black puffer jacket and black pants while she crouched to use a tool to prise open letterboxes at the front stairwell of a building at 6am on September 6.

“She sometimes does one group one day and another the next day. It depends on whether she is disturbed,” the complex’s owners’ corporation committee member Valerie Stroehle said, adding the woman appeared to be holding a small knife to open mail.

“She has a master key that opens the boxes. I believe you can buy them on the internet, which is what I have been told.”

Ms Stroehle said the woman frequently relocks mailboxes “so you are not aware she has been”. She added residents had been urged not to approach the woman but instead call police, while management worked through ways to stop the illegal activity.

Footage showed the offender rifling through mailboxes, with copies of the Inner City News also being pulled out and discarded.

Ms Stroehle said the incidents had been reported to police with the footage also handed over to assist their investigation.

“We also understand the same woman is visiting Fitzroy as well.”

A resident at the Hermitage residential building, a block of 12 flats on Palmer St, said they had debit cards stolen from their mailbox, which had then allegedly been used to hire an e-scooter and book an Airbnb.

While it is not known if the incidents are linked, the resident said it had left them concerned about their privacy and security of their personal information.

They said two debit cards were stolen and used to hire a Lime e-scooter linked to a Google account, while also making purchases for an $800 Airbnb booking (which was still pending), as well as at a Coles Express shop and a McDonald’s restaurant both on Hoddle St between September 13 to 14.

The resident said they also had a make-up palette in a parcel stolen. The victim said they weren’t sure if the package had been left somewhere or in their mailbox.

 

“I was annoyed … this person came back and did it again but luckily we didn’t have any mail. All our letterboxes were left open,” the resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

 

“We don’t have a camera for our block [but] the body corporate at our building is aware of it.”

Asked what measures they were taking to be vigilant, the resident said while they had cancelled their debit cards, they were “hoping for the best”.

“I tried to talk to Australia Post using a PO box but there’s a few things I get sent that can’t be sent to a PO box.”

The resident said their neighbour at the corner of Sophie Lane and Charles St also had their mailbox targeted in recent weeks.

Victoria Police has been contacted for comment. •

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