Taking Action: The mystery of the missing mailboxes in Chesapeake

Posted at 7:01 PM, Mar 07, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-08 15:47:08-05

Chesapeake, Va. - For the last 14 months, more than a dozen Sturbridge Village residents have been forced to drive three to four miles six days a week to pick up their mail.

On Christmas Day 2012, many of them say they went out to their cluster mail box, which used to be on Canadian Drive, to find a big mess and evidence that someone ran it over.

Since then, they say it's been a back and forth battle between their property manager and the post office to figure out who's responsible for replacing it.

"It's just an excuse to keep the people that are poor, poorer and to keep us underneath their thumb," says Wendy Vaughan who lives in the trailer park.

Every day until a new mail box is put in, they’ve been told they have to pick up their mail at their local Chesapeake post office; a major inconvenience for the elderly and disabled, those who don't drive and others who work during the day.

"A lot of times our mail has been sent back or lost or we just don't get it," says Vaughan.

Another resident, Kathy Jimerson, adds "We've been late on utility bills because we haven't been able to get them.”

So, NewsChannel 3 took action to get them answers.

Originally, residents say they were told they couldn't put up their own mail box because of zoning issues.

But after NewsChannel 3 got involved, a spokesperson for the United States Postal Service Richmond District tells us they will allow those customers affected to do that as long as all the mail boxes are installed in one approved location.

While some folks agree that would help resolve the issue, others still feel like they shouldn't have to fork out any money.

"It's in the lease that says that we don't,” explains John Wilburn.

Wilburn and his wife gave NewsChannel 3 a copy of the lease agreement they say they signed.

On page four, it clearly states "Management will provide and assign mail boxes to all residents."

Still, he says his property manager at Virginia Beach-based Arcap refuses.

NewsChannel 3’s Jackie Morlock asked Wilburn, “Why do you think he's giving you such a hard time?” “Because he can,” Wilburn replied. "I live in a trailer park. I'm too poor to hire a lawyer.  I can't fight him. He represents the owner and a group of people who have money to fight this and basically, people of our status in life end up getting treated like this quite a bit.”

NewsChannel 3 made several attempts to contact the director of operations at Arcap and the company's attorney with no response. We'll continue to take action until we get answers.