CERES -- Delivery to some 2,000 city mailboxes was stopped this week because of a problem with the locking mechanisms.
All Ceres residents who receive mail in centralized cluster boxes, such as those found in subdivisions and apartment complexes, were greeted with a note earlier this week saying delivery and pickup has been halted temporarily.
Ceres Postmaster Lee Hoskins said a problem arose over the weekend with the keys and locks to all the city's so-called neighborhood delivery centralized box units, which work on a master lock-and-key system.
Hoskins said the problem does not appear to be suspicious or criminal, and no mail was compromised or stolen. All the locks and keys will be replaced by Friday, and normal mail delivery should resume then, he said.
Notes began to be posted around town Monday, alerting residents to the problem and directing them to the Ceres post office on Mitchell Road to pick up their mail. The notes did not say when the problem would be fixed or what caused it.
Ceres resident Sofia Balderas, 37, saw the note on her mailbox Monday. She said she thought the issue was only with her mailbox until she posted a note about it on Facebook and learned people all over town were having the same problem.
"It is frustrating. I am more frustrated that they didn't have any more notice. You go to your mailbox one day, and there's a flier taped to your mailbox saying there's no mail," Balderas said. "It's a big inconvenience for me to go to pick up the mail at the post office. I live across town."
Residents concerned, confused
Other residents were similarly concerned about the sudden mail interruption. Ceres resident Eleanor Gordon, 65, said the situation was confusing because notices weren't posted on all boxes simultaneously.
She said the mailbox in her neighborhood didn't receive its flier until Tuesday.
"There was a long line out the door at the post office today," Gordon said. "Then people I talked to at the post office all had different stories about what was wrong."
Sacramento District postal spokesman Gus Ruiz said there was no indication of foul play, and the problem was purely mechanical. He said that the postal service delivers to an estimated 16,000 houses in Ceres and that delivery to individual residential boxes was not affected.
Ruiz added that the Ceres mailbox problem has nothing to do with the drop-box theft at the Kearney Avenue post office in Modesto the previous weekend.
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2284.