9 Investigates

Audit finds that USPS still doesn’t have a handle on arrow key thefts

ORLANDO, Fla. — A new Office of Inspector General report found, despite being on notice for at least three years about the rise in mail theft and mail carrier attacks, the United States Postal Service has failed to act on its own initiatives to stop it.


9 Investigates has been covering this issue for the last year, and looked into what auditors say needs to change now to protect your mail and the people who deliver it.

We told you about the plan to replace thousands of blue collection boxes around the country with more secure versions, and creating enhanced security around the keys that open them, known as arrow keys; but the auditor’s report found USPS doesn’t have timelines or milestones in place to actually implement those changes.

Read: Suspect wanted after universal mail keys stolen from postal workers in 2 Central Florida counties

The Office of Inspector General found in a sampling of five states, including Florida, where there should have been a total of 550 arrow keys in service, nearly a third -- 155 -- were missing. Of that, a vast majority -- 140 -- were not listed in the Postal Inspection Service’s own report tracking missing keys.

It’s not just leading to mail theft, though that’s happening in staggering numbers with more than 25,000 high-volume thefts in the first half of this year, but it’s putting a target on letter carriers. The number of attacks this year is on pace to more than double last year’s totals.

Read: 9 Investigates ongoing problem of attacks on mail carriers for universal mail key

The audit also found the Postal Inspection Service, which investigates mail theft and carrier attacks, is facing staffing shortages. It also found those who solely work mail theft cases are not required to complete any specialized training about mail theft.

USPS pushed back on the audit, pointing out to replace over 9-million arrow keys with the electronic modified version would cost over $2.6-billion in hardware alone.

Read: Arbitrator sides with Postal Police union on patrol debate amid arrow key attacks

USPS has also put more controls in place for ordering new arrow keys, restricting it to a limited number of employees nationwide and has several layers of approval before those orders can be placed.

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Karla Ray

Karla Ray, WFTV.com

Karla Ray anchors Eyewitness News This Morning on Saturday and Sundays, and is an investigative reporter for the 9 Investigates unit.