GASTONIA, N.C. — Gastonia Police are documenting multiple incidents of a thief prying open mailboxes and stealing mail in multiple neighborhoods over the weekend.
According to police reports, a thief targeted three residential neighborhoods and two apartment or condo complexes along Union Road early Sunday morning.
Officers said the thief pried opened and damaged the mailboxes at the two complexes.
Brittany Cannelli said she woke up Sunday morning to find her mailbox open, and she first assumed her mother grabbed her mail.
"Then all of a sudden, the police officers were outside asking us if our mail got stolen, and I was like, ‘Well, I guess it did,'" Cannelli said.
Cannelli and her neighbors shared images from their home security cameras of a man driving around their cul-de-sac in an SUV, opening up mailboxes.
"I think it’s really sad that people are stealing people's mail because that's a huge invasion of privacy," Cannelli said.
Cannelli and a second homeowner said officers told them they believed all of the mail thefts along Union Road are connected.
Cannelli said she and her neighbors are forming a neighborhood watch, and she plans to buy a locked mailbox and install a security camera above it.
"Don't come into this neighborhood because people are going to be watching you," Cannelli said. "You're going to get caught."
A Gastonia Police spokesman told WCNC Charlotte the department will likely turn over the cases to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Mail theft is considered a federal crime punishable by a fine or up to five years in prison. If you're the victim of mail theft, the U.S. Postal Service outlines specific steps you should take here.