FAIRBANKS — Interior residents are being advised to keep a close watch on their roadside mailboxes as an outbreak of mail thefts plagues area neighborhoods.

Victims of the thefts have taken to local social media pages to spread the word, posting warnings along with photos showing rows of mailboxes open and emptied. Fairbanks police posted an item on its Facebook page Thursday, urging residents to be vigilant, and Alaska State Troopers confirm that semi-

rural neighborhoods such as Chena Ridge, Goldstream, Badger Road and Bradway have been targeted in recent weeks.

“It seems like the ones that are getting hit the worst are the big rows of mailboxes because there they can hit a bunch of them at the same time,” trooper Edward Halbert said.

The thefts are likely the work of multiple people, not just one small group, Halbert said. 

Although  mail thieves will steal anything of value, such as the “stacks and stacks of Netflix movies” found with one suspect, Halbert said,“what they’re primarily going for is credit cards and gift cards. We’re picking up tons of those cases.”

Residents should get locking mailboxes and put a stop on their mail if they’re going on vacation, but their best deterrent is to check the mail every day, Halbert said.

“This is happening at night, after it has been delivered. They’re just slinging open 20 mailboxes, and if they get mail out of two or three of them they’re doing pretty good,” Halbert said.

Although the U.S. Postal Service is responsible for investigating mail thefts, troopers and other law enforcement agencies are often notified because residents don’t know where else to turn. 

Law enforcement will take theft reports but often can’t do much until the thief tries to use a stolen credit card, bank card or checks.  

The Fairbanks police Facebook post recommends residents “pay attention to suspicious vehicles or persons around mailboxes” and have credit or debit cards mailed to “an alternate location, such as a place of employment.”

Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.