Camas police investigate mail theft after ballots dumped

Clark County

Police say suspects usually target mail for financial gain and dump what's left

CAMAS, Wash. (KOIN) — A concerned citizen called local police when they found mail that had been dumped outside, including six voter’s ballots, in Camas, Washington on Sunday.

Luckily, the ballots found near Klickitat Park on Prune Hill were intact, according to police, though slightly wet due to the weather. Officers were able to return those ballots and the rest of the recovered mail to the residents they were addressed to.

Later that same day, three more voter’s ballots were discovered and then returned to their rightful recipients.

Police are now investigating the mail theft. Authorities said officers found four “community-style” mailboxes that had been pried open, with mail stolen from each one. Officers spoke with nearby neighbors about the incident. They also obtained some surveillance video of a possible suspect, however, that person has not been identified.

A photo take from residential surveillance video shows a possible suspect after 4 mail boxes were broken into in Camas, Wash. October 18, 2020 (Camas Police)

One resident said mail theft has been an ongoing issue in the area.

“Recently, in the last two to three days, we’ve had three more boxes broken into. This one behind me, another one down the road, and another one around the corner,” said Camas resident John Hoyenga. “At this one, all but two of the compartments were broken into.”

He said, thankfully, he got his ballot in the mail the day before the break-ins happened. But, Hoyenga said mail theft has been a problem for the last five months. He described multiple instances of mailboxes in the neighborhood being broken into, leaving them damaged.

“And no one on that block could receive mail for about two weeks while it was getting addressed,” said Hoyenga. “We are pushing for full replacement—the best option are some of the newer, all-steel boxes.”

He said he is in the process of working with their local post office to address the issue. As for voting, Hoyenga said, “I always drop off my ballot at the drop off box in Camas. That’s a very secure box.”

Camas police said mail theft is not uncommon, and officers respond to similar calls several times a year. A common modus operandi is for the suspects to rifle through the mail, looking for things such as checks, credit cards, or information that could be “used for opening fake charge accounts,” and they will frequently discard whatever else is left. Police said, “just as the ballots were in this case.”

The investigation into the Sunday mail theft is ongoing. If you have any information regarding the case, call the non-emergency line — 311. 

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