Ironton Post Office burglarized

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 10, 2004

Two Ironton men were arrested Friday in connection with two thefts that occurred at the Ironton Post Office this week.

Twelve post office boxes were burglarized Thursday night, just one night after someone broke into the new copier and stole all the change. The lobby is open 24-hours a day so customers can access the 1,200 post office boxes.

"This is a federal offense," Postmaster Kathleen Patrick said. "We are not playing games anymore."

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The Ironton Police Department arrested Justin R. Eldridge, 19, of 401 Center St., early Friday morning. Eldridge was charged with breaking and entering, a Class 5 felony punishable by up to one year in jail, and vandalism. His sentence will depend upon the amount of damage, Capt. Jim Carey said.

Eldridge had been seen in the area and evidence was recovered from

his apartment, Carey said.

Later Friday, Joseph C. Clark, 21, of the 1500 block of South Fourth Street, was arrested on charges of complicity to vandalism and theft. Police say Clark was involved Wednesday night, but not Thursday.

"One thing that helped solve this case so quickly is the communication between officers, especially officers Shawn Rawlins,

Grover Carter and Beth Rist, because they provided us with information," Carey said.

Investigators from the U.S. Postal Service came from Columbus Friday to investigate. Federal charges are pending, Patrick said.

Everything is now back to normal. All of the locks have been changed and the mail has been returned, she said.

Thefts at the post office have been a problem. In October, someone stole the copy machine. The recent string of thefts and vandalism has Patrick wondering how much longer the post office can maintain its 24-hour lobby.