PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service is changing tens of hundreds of antiquated keys utilized by postal carriers and putting in hundreds of high-security assortment bins to cease a surge in robberies and mail thefts, officers mentioned Friday.
The Postal Service is changing 49,000 so-called arrow locks with digital variations to make them much less engaging to criminals who’ve been focusing on them to steal mail from safe receptacles, and it’s inserting 12,000 hardened blue assortment bins in high-risk areas, based on the Postal Service and Postal Inspection Service.
The announcement got here days after the Nationwide Affiliation of Letter Carriers expressed outrage as The Related Press reported that just about 500 postal carriers have been robbed final 12 months.
“We’re doubling down on our efforts to guard our postal staff and the safety of the mail. We’re hardening targets — each bodily and digital — to make them much less fascinating to thieves and dealing with our regulation enforcement companions to deliver perpetrators to justice,” Postal Inspection Service Chief Gary Barksdale mentioned Friday in an announcement.
The spike in postal provider robberies has put letter carriers on edge.
The robberies have greater than quadrupled over a decade, and weapons have been utilized in a lot of the 496 robberies final 12 months, based on information offered by the Postal Inspection Service to the AP beneath the Freedom of Info Act. Thirty-one postal carriers have been injured, and one in all them was killed final 12 months, based on the info.
On Thursday, federal officers introduced two extra folks have been charged on allegations of pulling a letter provider off a house’s entrance steps whereas stealing an arrow key and utilizing a knife to rob one other provider final 12 months in Massachusetts.
The Postal Service declined to say what number of arrow keys are in use with the nation’s almost 250,000 letter carriers.
However efforts by criminals to intercept the mail transcend robberies to steal these keys. The Postal Service mentioned additionally there have been 38,500 thefts of mail from blue assortment bins within the 2022 fiscal 12 months.
Criminals are focusing on the mail, usually in an organized vogue, to commit monetary crimes, together with altering checks to commit verify fraud, officers mentioned, however there are steep federal penalties for doing so.
Postmaster Normal Louis DeJoy mentioned the carriers who ship 162.1 million items of first-class mail every day ought to be capable to work “in security and to be free from focusing on by criminals searching for to entry the general public’s mail.”
Mail theft carries a penalty of as much as 5 years in jail. Possession, concealment or disposal of property carries a sentence of as many as 10 years in jail. Assault carries a sentence of as much as 10 years for a primary offense, and as much as 25 years for any subsequent offense, officers mentioned. Federal prosecutors may also deliver different prices, as nicely.
Postal officers are cracking down on different methods criminals are focusing on the service.
The service started implementing twin authentication for identification verification on-line for adjustments in handle final month, and is beginning enhanced in-person change-of-address transactions by month’s finish to forestall criminals from utilizing change-of-address protocols for identification theft to intercept bank cards, checks and different monetary mail. The Postal Service is not accepting third-party change-of-address submissions.
The service can also be tackling counterfeit postage. It’ll train new authority to take possession and eliminate packages with counterfeit postage and to close down web sites promoting counterfeit postage, officers mentioned.
Postal officers seized greater than 340,000 packages with counterfeit postage and greater than 7.7 million counterfeit stamps, stopping the lack of an estimated $7.8 million in postal income, within the final fiscal 12 months, officers mentioned.
Comply with David Sharp on Twitter @David_Sharp_AP