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Mail theft arrests declining while cases go up

ORLANDO, Fla. — A new report shows Postal Inspectors are making fewer mail theft arrests each year. That’s despite ongoing attacks on mail carriers and what’s been described as rampant mail theft and fraud.

Channel 9 investigative reporter Karla Ray has been breaking new details on this issue for eight months and found the arrests have gone down each year since 2018.

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The Postal Service admits that mail theft has gone up, and it’s gotten so bad they’re warning you to go inside a post office to send sensitive mail, instead of leaving it in your box or a blue mailbox.

As criminals continue to target your mail with the goal of stealing your identity or money, mail carriers continue to be at risk of attacks.

Read: Man, 19, accused of stealing mail using key stolen from Central Florida mail carrier

Any time you mail a check or send off personal information, you’re at risk of becoming a victim of mail theft or fraud.

“Right now, we have a major problem, we have mail theft that’s exploding, and it’s all fueled by check fraud, and the Inspection Service is doing very little to stop it,” Postal Police Union leader Frank Albergo said.

Albergo is referring to the latest annual report from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, a different federal law enforcement agency, which shows the lowest number of mail theft-related arrests in five years, with just 1258 reported for the most recent year of data.

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

That’s a steady decline each year, and a 49% drop since 2018.

“There’s no question about it, that the fewer arrests is not because there are fewer mail theft attempts,” Albergo said. “It’s the exact opposite. While mail theft is rising, the mail theft arrests are actually plummeting.”

We told you about the plan to replace thousands of blue mailboxes and to replace thousands of arrow keys that open them with an electronic system, but Albergo says those efforts aren’t enough to protect carriers or your mail.

Read: Attack on Seminole County mail carrier for special key the latest in growing crime trend

“The American people who are suffering, it’s, you know, the elderly who still use trucks, it’s small businesses who still use trucks, so it’s a problem, and it has to be resolved, and congress needs to step in,” Albergo said.

A U.S. Postal Inspection Service Headquarters spokesperson issued the following statement about the numbers in the annual report:

• Many courts are still working through a backlog of cases coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

• As far as the number of mail theft arrests declining, the number of cases initiated stays more constant (1,278 in 2019 and 1,124 in 2022).

Read: The changes being made, and those still needed, to protect mail carriers and your mail

As the Inspection Service has noted before, the type of mail theft crime we see has changed over the past few years. What we see more frequently now is a more organized approach to mail theft, with more large volume attacks on mail receptacles than in prior years. Our agency is prioritizing high-quality, high-impact cases and arrests. Instead of charging and arresting individual actors, and those low on the criminal organization hierarchy, we strive to develop cases to charge and arrest those at the top of criminal organizations who are robbing letter carriers, stealing mail and perpetrating financial crimes.

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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.

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