New tools to stop mail carrier robberies

The U.S. Postal Service has started a pilot program in the D.C. area to fight robbers who have been stealing mailbox keys from carriers in brazen assaults.

“The latest thing we’re working on is a new program that adds an electronic coupling with the physical key and lock, and we’re currently testing that in select locations including the Washington D.C. Metro area,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Michael Martel.

He added that it will take some time to figure out the effectiveness of the new electronic devices.

“We have to make sure if we are adding something electronic it’s effective and cost-effective,” Martel said.

The Postal Service has added security to its blue boxes amid increasing threat. Some include sharp rakes that cut cords or rope if someone tries to “fish” mail out of a box and reinforcement of the inside of mailboxes to make it very difficult to pry them open.

This past summer, several carriers were robbed of their blue mailbox keys. The first robbery occurred June 30 in Takoma Park, Maryland, where the post office worker was assaulted. Shortly after, another mail carrier was robbed while on route in D.C. near the 5900 Block of 8th Street NE.

The next day, July 1, a third mail carrier was robbed in Wheaton, Maryland. Less than 20 minutes later, another letter carrier was robbed in nearby Beltsville.

The United States Postal Inspection Service said another incident occurred on the 2000 block of Florida Avenue NW. A post office worker was delivering his route when he was approached by one of the suspects.

The suspect then demanded property, struck the mail carrier in the chin and snatched the property before fleeing in a black sedan.

The final robbery on July 1, reported by the Postal Inspection Service, was in Columbia, Maryland.

Another carrier was robbed last week on East-West Highway in Silver Spring, but police have since released a surveillance photo of the suspect.

Kyle Cooper

Anchor and reporter Kyle Cooper, has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana, and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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