Mail Theft Spikes in Southern California – NBC Los Angeles



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Mail theft has spiked across communities in Southern California. With more and more packages delivered to doorsteps every day, more Angelenos lose valuable checks and documents, more postal workers are victims of violent robberies, and more thieves get away with it.

Jennifer Schuchmann’s security camera caught thieves driving down her street in Valley Village, throwing opened envelopes out of their car window. She sent her husband, Dave, to investigate.

“It wasn’t just like mail had been scattered,” she said. “It literally was like someone had opened all the mail and thrown it out of the car.”

Schuchmann says the envelopes contained sensitive information, like Social Security numbers and bank account information.

“All those things that you wouldn’t want anybody to get,” she said.

The mail wasn’t just from her neighborhood.

It was from all over the San Fernando Valley. A call to the local police department led her to the United States Postal Police (USPP), who told her someone will come by to pick up their mail. After a few days had passed with the mail still in her possession, the USPP told her to give the mail to her carrier.

Frank Albergo, President of the Postal Police Officers Association, says thefts like these have become increasingly common in the last decade, when the Postal Police shrunk more than 66 percent. Coupled with mail theft complaints across the country increasing by 161% in the last year alone, Albergo says mail theft teams can only do so much to help.

“You would expect that the Postal Service, in the middle of a mail theft epidemic and their workers are being attacked and robbed, they would put us back out on the street,” Albergo said. “They refused to do so.”

A change in law now has postal workers stationed only in postal buildings, a change from the former law that let them survey postal routes and meet with postal carriers. The US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) in a statement to the I-Team said “a complaint does not necessarily equate to a confirmed instance of mail theft,” and that the USPIS is “engaged on multiple fronts” to combat mail theft.

Carriers are common targets of robberies because of their access to arrow keys, a special key that opens multiple boxes of mail across neighborhoods, in addition to the checks that come and go from their truck. Thieves assault postal workers, steal these checks, wash off the names, and cash them or sell them to other people. The I-Team found physical assaults and robberies against postal workers rose nationwide between Jan. 2020 to Sep. 2021.

After seeing the mail strewn outside of her home, Schuchmann says her first thought was for the names on the envelope address line.

“Who knows who’s waiting for a check for four more days?”

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