Two Glendale men are in federal custody in connection with the theft of two mail collection boxes over the weekend.
John Edward Bauer, 38, and Nathaniel Nathan Gatlin, 26, were arrested Tuesday after Bauer attempted to use a stolen gift card at a Lowe’s home improvement store in Phoenix, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix said Wednesday.
Gatlin was arrested outside his Glendale home.
The two were held in connection with the theft of a post office box at 7460 E. McDowell Road in Scottsdale and a box at 14955 W. Bell Road in Surprise. The Scottsdale box was discovered missing 6 a.m. Monday, the Surprise box at 4:15 a.m. Monday.
The boxes contained several hundred pieces of mail, including money orders, gift cards and checks, states an affidavit by U.S. postal inspector Timothy Lenzen.
Lenzen reported that thieves unscrewed the bolts of the blue collection boxes and pushed the boxes into a vehicle, then took the boxes to one of their homes and opened the mail.
"These thieves not only stole U.S. mail but also took away holiday cheer from loved ones using the U.S. Postal Service," said Paul Charlton, U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona, in a statement.
A conviction for mail theft carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both.
The two incidents bring the number of stolen post office boxes to three this year, which is a high number for what is usually a rare occurrence, said Patricia Armstrong, spokeswoman for the postal inspector.
The boxes have already been replaced, she said.
The U.S. Postal Service is trying to notify its customers that their mail has been stolen. Victims are encouraged to file a mail theft complaint with the Postal Inspection Service at (602) 223-3660.
Officials recommend dropping mail off close to the next scheduled pickup.