USPS touts crackdown on postal crime, carrier robberies, with hundreds of arrests

Oct 25, 2023, 7:35 AM

With mail theft and postal carrier robberies up, law enforcement officials have made more than 600 arrests since May in a crackdown launched to address crime that includes carriers being accosted at gunpoint for their antiquated universal keys, the Postal Service announced Wednesday.

Criminals are both stealing mail and targeting carriers’ so-called “arrow keys” to get access to mailboxes.

“We will continue to turn up the pressure and put potential perpetrators on notice: If you’re attacking postal employees, if you steal the mail or commit other postal crimes, postal inspectors will bring you to justice,” Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale told reporters on Wednesday.

The Postal Service announcement on Wednesday came against a backdrop of rallies by the National Association of Letter Carriers calling for better protection of carriers and harsh punishment for criminals who rob them. They’ve been held across the country in recent months, including one Tuesday in Denver and another Wednesday in Houston.

Letter carriers are on edge after nearly 500 of them were robbed last year. Criminals increasingly targeted the mail to commit financial crimes like altering checks to obtain money.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in a statement that it’s important to protect the “sanctity of the nation’s mail” but that his top priority is the safety of those delivering it.

To reduce robberies, the Postal Service is in the process of replacing tens of thousands of postal carriers’ universal keys that are sought by criminals seeking to steal mail to commit check fraud, officials said. So far, 6,500 of the keys have been replaced with electronic locks in select cities, and another 42,500 are set to be deployed, officials said. The Postal Service has declined to say how many of the arrow keys are in service.

To prevent mail theft, the Postal Service also has deployed more than 10,000 high-security blue boxes in high-risk locations to prevent criminals from fishing out the mail.

The Postal Service also implemented changes that reduced fraudulent change-of-a-address transactions by 99.3% over the past fiscal year, and they’ve reduced counterfeit postage by 50%, as well, officials said.

The Postal Service is touting its successes after a critical report by its own watchdog, the Office of Inspector General. Issued late last month, it faulted management for a lack of “actionable milestones,” accountability for staffing and training, and upgrading carriers’ universal keys.

The Postal Service has its own police force, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which is leading the effort with other internal units and outside law enforcement agencies. Early efforts focused on organized mail crime in Chicago, San Francisco and several cities across Ohio.

Of the 600 arrests made since May as part of “Operation Safe Delivery,” more than 100 were for robberies while more than 530 were for mail theft, officials said.

The penalty is steep for interfering with the mail.

Theft alone can be punished by up to five years in prison; possession or disposal of postal property carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Assaulting a mail carrier can also lead to a 10-year sentence for a first-time offense. Repeat offenders can get 25 years for an assault.


Sharp reported from Portland, Maine.


Follow David Sharp on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, @David_Sharp_AP

United States News

Associated Press

Trump and DeSantis will hold dueling campaign events in Iowa with the caucuses just six weeks away

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Ron DeSantis plans on Saturday to complete his campaign promise to visit each of Iowa’s 99 counties, a timeworn tactic for presidential candidates hoping to make their mark in the leadoff state over months mingling with voters at the state’s diners, cookouts and Pizza Ranches. But the Florida governor’s moment, […]

43 minutes ago

FILE - Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is shown before administering the oath of office t...

Associated Press

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor paved a path for women on the Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (AP) — One fall day in 2010, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor slipped into the courtroom where she worked for nearly 25 years to take in an “amazing” sight. The first — and for 12 years, the only — woman on the high court saw three women in black robes among the […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

US Navy plans to raise jet plane off Hawaii coral reef using inflatable cylinders

HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. Navy plans to use inflatable cylinders to lift and roll a jet plane off a coral reef in Hawaii before removal from the ocean waters where the aircraft crashed on Nov. 20. Rear Adm. Kevin Lenox, the commander of Carrier Strike Group 3 who is leading the salvage effort, said […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Las Vegas police search for suspect after 5 homeless people are shot, killing 2

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Five homeless people were shot in Las Vegas on Friday, two of them fatally, and police were searching for a lone suspect, authorities said. The shooting occurred around 5:30 p.m. near a freeway overpass in the northeastern part of the city, according to Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Mark Lourenco. […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Judge rejects calls to halt winter construction work on Willow oil project in Alaska during appeal

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A federal judge in Alaska on Friday rejected requests from environmental groups to halt winter construction work for the massive Willow oil project on Alaska’s North Slope while the groups’ legal fight over the drilling project wages on. U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason just last month upheld the Biden administration’s […]

4 hours ago

FILE - Rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. Frank Rocco Giustino, who skippe...

Associated Press

Lawsuits against Trump over Jan. 6 riot can move forward, appeals court rules

Lawsuits against Donald Trump over the U.S. Capitol riot can move forward, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.



Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.



Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.

USPS touts crackdown on postal crime, carrier robberies, with hundreds of arrests