USPS Warns All Americans Must Do This to Keep Their Mail Safe
You could be leaving yourself vulnerable to thieves if you don't do this.
If you go to check your mailbox and find it empty, it's possible that no one sent you anything—or it could be something else. Over the past few months, residents in states across country have been complaining about delivery delays from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). In response, the agency has confirmed that "continued staffing issues" could leave customers without mail sometimes. The USPS has also long warned Americans that issues like blocked mailboxes, loose dogs, hazardous conditions, overflowing mailboxes, and travel obstructions can force carriers to skip deliveries for certain residents. But now, the Postal Service is alerting people about another problem that could put their mail at risk of going missing—after it's been delivered. Read on to find out what the USPS warns all Americans must do to keep their mail safe.
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The USPS has recently issued a number of warnings to Americans.
The Postal Service deals with the correspondences and personal information of millions of people across the U.S. In order to do so effectively and safely, the agency and its employees work to keep the public informed about proper protocol.
Back in March, one USPS worker took to TikTok to urge people not to mail letters with certain items like coins, cards, keys, and jewelry, as they tend to get ripped out by the machines the agency uses and end up destroying other people's mail. And just last month, the USPS issued a press release about the "serious threat" that animal attacks are having on carriers around the country. According to the agency, more than 5,400 postal employees were attacked by dogs in the U.S. in 2021 alone.
Now, the USPS is issuing a new alert to try to keep customers safe from a major threat.
The agency is urging people to do one thing to keep their mail safe.
Mail theft has become enough of a concern for the postal agency that they're now alerting Americans about it. Damien Kriebel, a postal inspector for the USPS in Tampa, Florida, told local CBS-affiliate WTSP on July 25 that homeowners should be taking precautions to avoid getting their mail stolen. According to Kriebel, the number one way to keep your mail safe from thieves is to routinely empty your mailbox.
"The key is to not leave your mail in your mailbox unattended," he said. "You wouldn't leave your car unlocked with important documents on the front seat, and you shouldn't leave documents sitting in an unlocked mailbox either."
People have been reporting mail theft across the country.
On July 21, a couple in Tampa caught someone lurking around mailboxes in their neighborhood on their home surveillance camera, according to WTSP. "It's a black pick-up truck and it comes up to our mailbox and somebody leans out of the truck and opens the mailbox, closes it, and they drive on," homeowner Gary Ashbaugh told the news outlet. "They went to the next house because his video shows them opening his mailbox."
The problem is hardly limited to Florida. In April, a New York man pleaded guilty to working as part of a group that stole more than $550,000 worth of checks from mailboxes across several New Jersey counties and Connecticut, per NJ.com. Just this month, police in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, warned residents that someone in the area was stealing mail from home mailboxes, local NBC-affiliate WBRE reported.
"Whoever is doing it is taking mail from the mailboxes looking for checks and when they find checks they are whitewashing them signing them out to a bogus account and depositing them electronically," Sgt. Scott Rozitski from the Wright Township Police told the news outlet. "They are using some kind of liquid and what it does is takes regular ink off checks but not the check ink. The check ink is still intact. The ink that's written is taken off and once they dry that out, they can write on the checks."
Mail theft has increased in the last few years.
It's not just anecdotal either. An audit report from the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that from March 2020 through Feb. 2021, the USPS Inspection Service (USPSIS) received nearly 300,000 complaints about mail theft, which was a staggering 161 percent increase from the amount of complaints during the same time period a year prior.
"Mail theft is a growing problem. It's at epidemic proportions right now," Postal Police Officer Association President Frank Albergo told CBS-affiliate WBTV in Charlotte, North Carolina. According to Albergo, one of the major issues is that the USPS police force is not being utilized properly, dwindling down now to just a third of what the force was in 2019.