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Precautions urged locally

Lynn Burton
Staff Writer

As the fear of mailbox pipe bombs spreads across the state, residents who use mailboxes were asked to leave mailbox doors open.

“Carriers are not allowed to open boxes,” said Glenwood Springs Postmaster Tony Ramirez.

Pipe bombs were found in mailboxes from Illinois to Texas since Friday, including one near Salida.

The U.S. Postal Service started telling people on Monday to leave their mailbox doors open.

Carbondale Postmaster Ray Ciborowski said residents who know about the new mailbox open door policy have been cooperative, but lots of people still don’t know about it.

“It’s for the carrier’s safety, and the customer’s safety,” Ciborowski said.

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Department also issued a press release Tuesday urging residents to call the office at 945-0453 if they see anything suspicious.

“We would rather take the time to check something out that seems suspicious than to have a citizen risk injury,” said sheriff’s department spokesperson Ron VanMeter.

Sheriff Tom Dalessandri explained a safe way to open a mailbox without risking a pipe bomb injury.

A Midwest law enforcement officer suggested people get a fishing pole or fishing line, attach the hook to the mailbox latch, then walk off 20 feet or so and give the line a yank to open the door.

“That sounds extreme, but nobody knows there’s a bomb until they open the door,” Dalessandri said.

Injuries to letter carriers and residents in Illinois and Iowa included hearing loss, cuts, shrapnel wounds and the loss of part of a thumb.

As of Monday afternoon, all the bombs were placed in mailboxes served by rural mail carriers. Locally, there are thousands of rural mailboxes, including 1,500 to 2,000 served by the Glenwood Springs post office, 5,000 served by Carbondale, and 3,000 served by Rifle, according to postmasters at those post offices.

Local postmasters report they are doing their best under difficult circumstances to make sure mail gets delivered. People who have missed their mail because it couldn’t be delivered should call their post office and pick it up in person.

U.S. Postal Service spokesperson Al DeSarro said the open door policy will be lifted when an arrest is made in the case, and when FBI and post inspectors are confident that it’s unlikely other devices remain.

“Hopefully, the one found in Amarillo is the last one,” DeSarro said from his Denver office.

Aside from the open door policy, the recent scare may have one positive result.

Rifle’s acting postmaster, Harry Orona, said some rural subdivision residents have resisted using cluster boxes, which groups locked mailboxes all in one small area.

“In the future, we might not have that resistance,” Orona said.


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