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US postal authorities boost efforts to combat ongoing mail theft, violent crimes

Federal law enforcement officials say a surge in mail theft and violent crimes against mail carriers includes a 139% increase in reports of high-volume mail theft from receptacles between 2019 and 2023.
US Postal Service related crimes
Posted at 2:23 PM, May 08, 2024

The United States Postal Inspection Service is working to boost awareness and mitigation efforts to quell what it calls a surge in violence against postal delivery workers and mail theft at postal receptacles — like blue post office drop boxes and other places where mail carriers drop and pick up parcels.

The USPIS, the nation's oldest federal law enforcement agency, said it's launching the "Project Safe Delivery" effort amid a 139% increase in reports of high-volume mail theft between 2019 and 2023. USPIS said there has been a 854% increase in letter carrier robberies between 2019 and 2023, as there were 64 letter carrier robberies in 2019 and 605 letter carrier robberies in 2023.

The agency said before 2020, mail theft happened primarily through forced entry and fishing devices, but it was able to improve security on the blue collection boxes with new locks and other measures. The law enforcement agency said the collection boxes still appear to be a target for thieves looking to find new ways to break into them.

In early April, a Scripps News investigation found that letter carriers have been targeted in robberies by criminals looking to steal arrow keys. In 2021 at least 132 arrow keys were stolen from mail carriers, and by 2023 those theft numbers had tripled to 418, according to the USPIS.

U.S. Postal Service arrow keys offer universal access to mailboxes, and it's against federal law for any unauthorized individual to be in possession of one. Nationwide there has been a spate of robberies by criminals targeting postal workers to get these keys.

Postal officials saidthey have conducted over 5,500 mail theft and violent crime prevention activities across the United States since the launch of their Project Safe Delivery initiative. USPS said it completed its second law enforcement surge in San Francisco in February as part of those efforts.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said, "We have been unrelenting in our pursuit of criminals."
A union representing letter carriers said postal service officials and law enforcement had not been taking crimes against postal employees seriously enough after a federal district court handed down a 30-day prison sentence for a suspect charged with armed robbery against a San Francisco letter carrier, Federal News Network reported.