By Steve Large

STOCKTON (CBS13) — Mail in one neighborhood isn’t making it to its addressee as thieves have ravaged mailboxes to the point residents are being told to pick up their mail at the post office.

Thieves have pried open metal doors on the backs of mailboxes, clearing out more than a dozen households of mail in a single hit around Thornton and Davis roads.

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Someone broke Bill Panagopoulos’ mailbox, forcing him to drive to the post office as postal carriers have stopped delivering.

“I just went and got my mail out of the post office.which was a half-an-hour line,” he said.

It’s the same story on a different Stockton Street for Jesse Estrada. He’s got a message for the thieves.

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“Find a new hobby; get a job,” he said. “It’s invading a lot of people’s privacy and it’s disrespectful.”

U.S. Postal Investigator Jeff Fitch says mail thefts have seen an uptick across Stockton, Elk Grove and Sacramento this year. And now the busy holiday shipping season begins.

“Neighborhoods are being hit and the other thing that’s happening is some of these individuals or groups are hitting some of these same neighborhoods multiple times,” he said.

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Mail theft is a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.