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'Mail Theft Epidemic' Reported as Thieves Steal 'Arrow Keys'

Experts say the U.S. Postal Service is not equipped to handle a worrying trend of mail theft. Officials with Cincinnati's Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office were investigating more than $200,000 stolen from local residents in the mail earlier this year, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Try to avoid all blue mailboxes inside Hamilton County," a detective warned. Last month, a mail carrier was robbed at 11 a.m. in Green Township, Ohio. A detective told the NBC affiliate in Cincinnati that more than $2 million was stolen from local victims. Despite these cases, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said, “The U.S. Mail remains one of the most secure means of transmitting personal information.”

Postal robberies are not being carried out by lone wolves. They're part of larger criminal organizations. The president of a national union for the postal police force called it a “mail theft epidemic.” Sen Sherrod Brown (D-OH) blames the Postal Inspection Service for no longer allowing postal police officers to patrol mail carrier routes. Brown cited an agency memo reporting a 400 percent increase in postal robberies since 2019, an increase of more than 7,000 reported violent crimes against postal employees. Criminals are targeting mail carriers for "arrow keys" that unlock blue drop boxes. In the middle of the night, thieves open the boxes and take the mail. Drug addicts are paid to search through the mail for checks and credit cards. Checks are washed so new amounts of money and new recipients can be written on them. David Maimon, a Georgia State University who studies mail thefts, said that when his team first started researching the issue, they saw about 100 checks a week sold online. Now, they see 2,000 a week. “People don’t understand the magnitude of what we’re seeing,” Maimon said. “It’s a nightmare.”


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