Law Enforcement Looking for Leads on Mailbox Theft

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The U.S. Postal Service is offering a reward for information about a man who allegedly stole mail collection boxes in Anchorage over the Christmas holiday.

The postal boxes around Anchorage were stolen between Dec. 20-25. Michele Logan is a detective in the financial crimes unit of the Anchorage Police Department. She’s partnering with the Postal Service on the investigation. She says investigators believe that the suspect, Clifford Earl Dancer, started removing the boxes December 19 or 20.

Clifford Earl Dancer

“A total of four blue mail receptacles have been stolen from different post offices around Anchorage – Muldoon, Lake Otis, Huffman and Spenard,” Logan said. “And from that subsequent crimes have been committed where people are taking the information out of those mailboxes and are doing forgery and theft.”

“So we’re helping the postal service follow up on those crimes.”

Logan says investigators got their first lead after an Anchorage resident contacted authorities indicating that a check that he had mailed had been cashed by someone to whom the check had not been issued. Dancer was identified as a suspect through video taken at the bank where the check was cashed. They’re not sure how he removed the boxes but they’re betting he had help, and that someone saw him.

“We do think there’s more than one person involved and we think there’s people who know about it – who may not be directly involved but who know about it,” Logan said. “So, we’re looking for any help that we can get with the investigation.”

The APD is working with Dave Schroader, a public information officer with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Seattle. He says this type of crime is unusual because the boxes are difficult to remove.

“They are bolted to the ground with security bolts. It takes quite a bit of effort to just try to remove one of them. And then do this so that no one sees your doing this and then drive away with the box in your vehicle, or whatever it might be, and then spend a significant amount of time just trying to open the box afterwards because they have safety locks and such on them on them. So they’re not easy to get into. They’re not easy to take. So it is extremely rare that we find these types of crimes,” Schroader said.

Schroader says anyone with information on the thefts should contact authorities immediately. And if you see the suspect he says, do not confront him.

“We don’t ever want to someone to confront someone who is involved in a crime or a criminal act. Make note of what they see. Make a phone call to 911. Speak to the police immediately and report what they see. Then the police will get a hold of the inspection service and we will respond to that incident,” Schroader said.

Dancer is 50 years old, 6-foot 2 inches tall, 180 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes. Investigators are encouraging anyone who may have mailed checks or items of value at those mailboxes around those dates to check their financial records to determine if the mail reached the intended recipients. The U.S. Postal service is offering a reward, of up to $5,000, for information leading to the arrest and conviction of  Dancer. Mail theft is a federal crime. If arrested and convicted, Dancer faces up to 5 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

If you have any information about this incident, please contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at  1-877-876-2455.

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Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network.

Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage.

Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email.

Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.

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