Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

USPS IG: Mail Theft ‘Becoming a Bigger and Bigger Problem’

November 17, 2022
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( – The U.S. Postal Service is taking a broader look at mail theft, which is “becoming a bigger and bigger problem,” a witness told a House Oversight subcommittee on Wednesday.

Tammy Whitcomb Hull, inspector general of the Postal Service, said investigations into mail theft take time because the cases can be “complicated.”

The Postal Service uses a universal key, known as an arrow key, to access collection boxes, outdoor parcel lockers, cluster box units, and apartment panels. Supervisors assign these keys -– generally one per route -– to letter carriers for use on over 300,000 delivery and collection routes each day. Carriers and collectors must always keep arrow keys secured and attached to their belts or clothing by a chain while on duty and return them at the end of each day.

Employees must report missing, lost, or stolen keys to the Postal Inspection Service immediately.

But a 2020 inspector-general investigation found that the Postal Service’s management controls over arrow keys were ineffective.

“Specifically, the number of arrow keys in circulation is unknown, and local units did not adequately report lost, stolen, or broken keys or maintain key inventories. Further, the Postal Service did not restrict the number of replacement arrow keys that could be ordered. Ineffective controls over arrow keys increases the risk that these items will be lost or stolen and not detected.”

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