UPDATE: Vandalism temporarily shuts down Dillon post office services, putting 24/7 access in jeopardy, but officials plan to reopen Saturday
Editor’s note: This story has been updated Friday, Dec. 16, at 6:36 p.m. to include new information provided by the U.S. Postal Service.
The Dillon Post Office closed retail services Friday morning, including package pickup, due to significant damage to the location’s lobby, according to a spokesperson for the United States Postal Service.
While Postal Service spokesperson James Boxrud said Friday morning that the situation was originally believed to be an act of vandalism, after learning more about the extent of the damage, he said later that afternoon that it is now being investigated as a potential break-in.
Overnight Wednesday, parts of the lobby of the postal building at 500 Lake Dillon Drive were defaced and spray painted, the screws to the front doors were removed, and the lock on the gate to the retail services was damaged, Boxrud said. The screws to the front doors were removed again Thursday night, he said.
Dillon police have been notified and will be patrolling the area regularly, according to Boxrud. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is also investigating.
“We apologize for this inconvenience. We are working diligently to get this reopened during our busiest time of year,” Boxrud said. “We appreciate your patience.”
The building’s retail services remained open Thursday but closed Friday morning as repairs to the damaged gate were made, Boxrud said. Post office boxes are still accessible through the back door of the building, he said. Retail services will reopen Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said the person responsible for the damage could face a felony charge under 18 U.S. Code § 2115, which carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison.
This is not the first instance of vandalism at this post office, but it is more significant than the stickers and spray paint dealt with in the past, according to Boxrud.
Postal Service lobbies are typically open 24 hours to allow residents easy access to their mail, but when vandalism happens, the lobbies may be forced to close overnight for a period of time when employees are not in the building, Boxrud said.
Around 4:30 p.m. Thursday, the doors to the post office were open and residents filtered in and out to retrieve their mail, some of them confused as to why they could not pick up and send packages.
Nobuhisa Ishizuki, who had a package pick up, described the situation as “really, really frustrating,” though he added, “I do understand it’s not the people who work here.”
While the Postal Service has been unreliable for him in Dillon, Ishizuki said family and friends in other parts of the country still send packages through the service, so he doesn’t have a better option.
Sawyer Bluhm, who was also picking up a package after getting off work, noted that it is the worst time of year for the post office to close.
“It’s unfortunate. People need to pick up Christmas gifts and stuff like that,” Bluhm said. “There’s usually a line out the door, so when they reopen, it’ll probably be five times as long.”
Anyone with information about the damage to the Dillon Post Office is asked to call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.
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