Several U.S. Postal Service blue mail collection boxes in Honolulu are no longer on downtown streets after problems with vandalism.
The U.S. Postal Service inspector in Hawaii, Brian Shaughnessy, said via email that he had several complaints earlier this year with homeless people being witnessed putting nonmailable items into those collection boxes, including one that used to be located at 919 Ala Moana Blvd., near the offices of the Department of Public Safety, within close proximity to the former site of the Kakaako homeless encampment.
Among the items: various trash, liquids, even feces. Those items can damage the mail and its contents, Shaughnessy said.
Fortunately, Shaughnessy said carriers were able to successfully deliver the mail from those affected boxes. But due to repeated incidents and concerns over the mail integrity, six collection boxes have been removed from the downtown area from Ala Moana Boulevard as well as Alakea, Keeaumoku, King, Maunakea and South Streets.
According to Shaughnessy, they worked with Honolulu police and the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney for the City and County of Honolulu to arrest and charge a homeless individual in connection with two of these incidents in June and July of this year.
He said Teri-Jean Cedric, also known as TJ Cedrick, was charged and convicted of criminal littering in state district court in both cases.
"From time to time we do see episodes of vandalism against postal property, both here in Hawaii and on the mainland,” Shaughnessy said. “But it is usually not something that occurs on a regular basis.”
Recently, some people have told Hawaii News Now that they've been personally warned by carriers not to put important mail items into the blue mail boxes unless they are located near a post office.
People rely on their bills, checks and legal documents to be in good condition for timely delivery and not to be damaged or destroyed. That's why it's a federal felony to willfully destroy mail, punishable by up to three years in jail, officials said.
Anyone who witnesses someone putting anything inside a mailbox other than mail, officials ask to report it immediately to police via 911 or contact the U.S. Postal Service inspector in Hawaii at 877-876-2455.