USPS Accused of Failure to Prevent Mail Theft

( – A CBS News report is highlighting a common method of mail-theft is being ignored by United States Postal Service administrators. Mail theft reports shot up from just 60,000 complaints in 2018 to over 250,000 in 2023. Investigators highlighted that the postal service has failed to secure millions of universal “arrow keys” that unlock large mail boxes used in developments and apartment buildings.

Thousands of pages of audits reviewed by CBS News through the Freedom of Information Act showed that postal workers and supervisors failed to track keys, store them properly, and failed to report them missing. The problem is extensive across the entire mail industry with post offices across the country engaging in similar practices.

Auditors from 2019 through 2024 revealed problems with the keys in 76 out of 84 facilities they scrutinized, well over 90%.

The inspector general issued comments in 2023 that suggested there was an increased risk of bulk mail theft due to improper handling of the keys. He said that the regular thefts were decreasing Americans’ trust in the mail service and harming its reputation.

Maria Tsalis told police and media that thieves were stealing her mail from a group of clustered mailboxes for her neighborhood in Palos Heights, Illinois. Tsalis had two checks stolen from her mail boxes.

The September report resulted in postal leaders issuing new guidance and training on the handling of arrow keys; however, the problem remains. Inspectors in March found problems in 10 out of 12 facilities they scrutinized. CBS reporters found evidence that suggested the problem has existed for decades with early reports in 1999.

A new initiative is the installation of electronic locks on the cluster and group mailboxes, but that’s a project that will take years to complete. Peter Redina is the Deputy Chief Postal Inspector for the USPS and he said that the new program should solve the problem after decades of failed interventions. He said that the program will cost millions of dollars and take years to complete.

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