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WESTCHESTER (CBSLA.com) — Lisa Gaines, a victim of mail thefts, said such crimes are well-planned, well-executed and happen in her Westchester neighborhood all the time.

Video footage shot from her neighbor’s house showed two men working their way down the street, going from mailbox to mailbox and stealing everything inside.

“There’s been two people, one in a car and one jogging down the street,” said Gaines. “The person in the car drives ahead, the person behind jogs like he belongs in the neighborhood, empties the mailbox, then throws it into the open window of the car.”

The thefts typically occur right after the mail truck delivery, according to Gaines, who said thieves also target post offices.

She said thieves are even placing some kind of sticky substance inside those blue mailboxes outside post offices in hopes of snatching people’s mail before it’s picked up.

“What people are doing is they’re putting something gummy or sticky in the slot,” Gaines explained.

Candace Blankenship said she has complained about the issue several times.

“I went into the post office, and I asked to speak with a supervisor. She came out, spoke to me, and I said: ‘Do you know you’ve got sticky stuff on the outside of your outside mailboxes?’ ” Blankenship said the supervisor’s response to her was: ‘We know the problem exists.’ I said: ‘Well, how long is it going to take to fix the problem?'”

Mail thefts are apparently widespread in Southern California. Other communities including Riverside, West Hollywood and Corona have reported similar crimes.

“I don’t want to worry about my mail and if it’s going to be delivered,” Blankenship said. “That’s ridiculous.”

CBSLA took the victims’ video and complaints to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which promised it will investigate and take the issue to the Postmaster General.

The inspection service offered tips on how to protect your mail:

  • Check the pickup time – don’t drop off your mail until right before it’s scheduled to be collected
  • Upgrade your mailbox – get one with a locking mechanism for added security
  • Always report suspicious activity to police

But for Blankenship, the post office is not delivering on its responsibility, and providing tips is not good enough.

“For them to have the attitude, the mentality of passing the buck, of trying to placate people. That doesn’t sit well with me at all,” she said. “Something needs to be done.”

If you have a story you would like Jeff Vaughn to look into, email him at checkwithJeff@cbs.com or use the #CBSLA on Twitter.

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