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Concerns over USPS letter carriers robbed of mail keys

Posted at 5:13 PM, Jul 31, 2023

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A recent criminal complaint states that since January, in Western New York, there have been multiple reports of mail carriers being robbed, sometimes at gunpoint, for their keys to get into a collection box.

Jesse Washington was on Tonawanda Street in Buffalo a few days ago when he said he was shocked by what he saw at the mailbox just across the street.

"I was just looking out my window, you know, and I'm like I don't believe it! He's not the mailman! That's crazy," Washington said.

He said a man was on a bike while rummaging through the collection box at the corner of Briggs Avenue and Tonawanda Street.

"Because usually, the mailman doesn't ride a bike you know? Usually, he has his truck so I'm like that's crazy," he added.

A recent criminal complaint filed by a USPS postal inspector is claiming that the man Washington saw stole mail from multiple collection boxes.

"My mail and everybody else's mail goes in there and that's like sabotage," Washington said.

A criminal complaint states that there have been multiple reports of mail carriers being robbed for their keys to get into collection boxes.

The inspector said he was notified that someone used a key to open the mailbox on July 27th. Not long after, a customer service manager said that same person then rode to the Tops on Elmwood Avenue and took more mail. The inspector said that person used those keys to take greeting cards hoping they would have money in them.

A Buffalo Police spokesperson told 7 News that police then arrested Eric Arroyo in connection to this theft. He was charged with criminal possession of stolen property on a misdemeanor. 7 News was also told Buffalo is not seeing an uptick in mail key thefts, but this is becoming a nationwide problem, and this issue is more prevalent in Rochester.

7 News reached out to USPS about this. A spokesperson said:

The increase in crime throughout the country over the past several years has resulted in escalating criminal incidents against United States Postal Service (USPS) employees and the mail.  Every postal employee deserves to work in safety and to be free from targeting by criminals seeking to access the public's mail.  In an increasingly challenging environment, the USPS and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) are highly focused on protecting postal employees and property and ensuring the secure delivery of the nation's mail and packages.

Recognizing these ongoing safety threats, we have been - and will continue to- implement an engaged, robust nationwide initiative to harden blue collection boxes, enhance collection box key and lock technology and institute dual authentication for change of address protocols. These measures not only protect the integrity of the mail but offer additional safeguards for our carriers and other employees. Furthermore, USPS and USPIS are partnering with federal and local authorities to enforce the laws and bring criminals to justice.

We will continue to adapt to evolving security threats and implement expanded measures to safeguard our employees and preserve the security of the mail that our customers expect and deserve.