WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released the response she received from the United States Postal Service (USPS) to her May 16, 2022, letter about the increase in mail theft, particularly of checks, through the use of stolen universal keys. In its response, USPS acknowledged an increase in mail theft in the District of Columbia area, and said postal officials have recently made security modifications and infrastructure upgrades to prevent mail theft and are prioritizing investigations into stolen checks.
“I am pleased USPS responded promptly to my letter on the increase in mail theft and is implementing new security measures to reduce such theft,” Norton said. “When I sent the letter, my office had recently been contacted by a constituent whose checks had been stolen from a blue collection box. I will be watching closely to ensure that USPS continues implementing its enhanced security measures and that these steps reduce mail theft.”
The USPS response letter follows.
May 31, 2022
The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-5101
Dear Congresswoman Norton:
This responds to your May 16 letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy regarding mail security.
I understand your interest in this topic and appreciate the opportunity to share information about the U.S. Postal Service’s commitment to protecting our customers. In safeguarding the mail, we rely on the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to prevent and detect all types of postal offenses, including criminal acts against the mail, postal facilities and personnel, and criminal misuse of the postal system. The Postal Inspection Service reviews each complaint of mail theft that it receives so that it can identify patterns and direct resources to the most affected areas.
In the Greater Washington area, Postal Inspectors have seen an increase in mail theft activity over the past few years comparable to that of other major metropolitan areas. Postal Inspectors here have worked closely with the Postal Service to install security modifications and infrastructure upgrades. These efforts include hardening collection boxes, reinforcing Post Office lobby walls for added security, installing cameras in postal facilities, and prioritizing investigations linked to stolen checks that are subsequently washed, altered, and negotiated for payment. The Postal Inspection Service also promotes mail theft prevention tips on its social media platforms, its website (www.uspis.gov), and through community outreach. Since Fiscal Year 2017, Postal Inspectors in the Washington area have conducted more than 900 presentations to postal customers and local law enforcement related to mail theft/check washing prevention.
Nationally, in Fiscal Year 2021, the Postal Inspection Service initiated 1,079 mail theft cases resulting in 1,511 arrests and 1,263 convictions. It should be noted that convictions do not always occur in the same fiscal year as the arrests. This is due to the time that it takes to bring a case to trial, the temporary closure of many courts during the COVID-19 pandemic, and other factors.
The Postal Inspection Service reports that recent trends in mail theft are likely attributable to a variety of factors, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw a growth in parcel volume and the mailing of economic impact payments and unemployment insurance payments.
Regarding your reference to keys, please know that we strictly control the keys that access mailboxes—known as “arrow” keys. Our procedures require employees to report immediately if a key is lost or stolen, and considerable effort is expended to ensure adherence to the policies concerning these keys.
You can be assured that we understand the extent to which our customers depend upon the Postal Service, and if they suspect mail theft or tampering, they are encouraged to contact the Postal Inspection Service by calling 1-877-876-2455, or by reporting online at www.uspis.gov/report.
Government Relations Representative