BOSTON — The U.S. Postal Service is replacing 49,000 key locks with electronic locks and installing thousands of high-security blue collection boxes as it attempts to combat mail theft and other postal crimes.
25 Investigates learned yesterday that the USPS is searching for a masked man who allegedly robbed a mail carrier at gunpoint in Mattapan on Oct. 18 on Stonecrest Road – getting away with the victim’s master key.
Another carrier was robbed of his master key in neighboring Dorchester on September 22, according to the USPS.
The master key also known as the arrow key can open the USPS large blue mail drop-off boxes: from open collection boxes to outdoor parcel lockers, to cluster box units, to apartment panels.
When one is taken, it can lead to a spike in checks, credit cards, and gifts stolen from the mail.
A spokesperson for USPS says it’s also putting measures in place to safeguard letter carriers.
At least six postal workers have been robbed in Boston since 2022, according to data from police and the USPS
We have reported on five others outside the city, including in January in Peabody and December 2022 in Melrose.
The USPS is offering a reward of up to $150,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the Mattapan and Dorchester robbers.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the USPS said postal robberies carry severe penalties — federal prison terms of up to 25 years for armed robbery of a postal employee or Post Office.
Meanwhile, the head of the Postal Police Officers Association is calling on the USPS to make better use of the postal service’s police force to combat a potential postal crime wave.
Union head Frank Albergo said the postal service took its police force off the streets in 2020. He argues the USPS underutilizes its law enforcement arm.
“The Postal Service pays for a uniformed police force that it refuses to use during a postal crime wave,” Albergo said. “It’s an incredible situation.”
The Postal Inspection Service has previously said it’s the law enforcement agency for the USPS and it’s working to combat postal crime.
Investigative Reporter Ted Daniel asked Albergo if it’s just a matter of time before we start seeing a wave of mail getting stolen from communities where arrow keys have recently been stolen.
“Criminals usually wait a week or two, and then they go to town,” he said. “They look for checks, and then they wash the checks or counterfeit the checks.”
In 2022, 25 Investigates told you about what happened to Tom Slamin of Natick: A check he sent to his oil company was stolen from the mail. “Sure enough, the same check that went to the oil company, somebody had stolen it, rewritten the check completely and took out $9,834,” Slamin said at the time.
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