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Authorities investigating Alameda Food Bank mail theft

Submitted by on 1, July 7, 2010 – 4:50 amNo Comment

By Rin Kelly

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is investigating the apparent theft of several weeks worth of mail from a post office box maintained by Alameda Food Bank, a crime that has cost the non-profit organization an unknown amount in donations.

The mail went missing from the Shoreline Drive postal facility sometime between June 11 and June 14, said Paul Russell, the food bank’s executive director. The contents of the post office box may have included mail sent as early as May 24, however, so the organization is urging individuals who donated by mail between May 24 and June 14 to check with their banks or credit card providers and also to consider resending their donations.

“At this point any donation that has been received has been notified with a thank you,” Russell said. “If they sent a donation during that window and have not received an acknowledgment from the Food Bank, then they can either contact us or contact their financial institution.”

Russell said that there has thus far been no evidence of identity theft or fraud relating to the incident, though the food bank has only been able to identify those donors who are also regular volunteers. “Otherwise I don’t know whose mail was taken,” he said.

To alert others whose donations or other communications may be missing, the food bank sent letters to a mailing list of 8,000 late last week. The notice, signed by board President Neil Rubenstein, suggests that it “appears unlikely” that the mail will ever be recovered.

“Although the events were beyond our control, we felt it was our obligation to notify all potential donors of the possible theft and to do everything within our power to recover the missing mail,” the letter continues.

According to Inspector Hillary Rickher of the Postal Inspection Service, an investigation into the alleged theft is “open and ongoing.” Those with information can contact the USPIS at 877-USMAIL5 or online at https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov, Rickher said.

Alameda Police Sgt. Jill Ottaviano said that because mail theft is a federal crime, local police are no longer directly involved in the case.

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