Tis the Season for Postal Policing

Tis the Season for Postal Policing

By Stephen Owsinski

Although porch pirates scan doorsteps and steal parcel deliveries throughout the year, the upcoming holiday gift-giving magnetizes even bigger losses due to thieves putting their grubby mitts where Hallmarks stuffed with cash and gift cards are delivered: Your mailbox.

Tis the season for the U.S. Postal Police, whose jurisdiction is vast and carries the authority conferred by the federal government, to brace for an uptick in mail theft from either individual mailboxes or brazen, daytime armed robbers grabbing the entire haul of a mail carrier’s route.

(Photo courtesy of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.)

This has been keeping Postal police officers and investigators busy lately, especially in certain cities overrun with crime ushered in by bizarre reforms that wave a white flag, influencing malcontents who gladly seize the advantage and thrive on your dole.

Holiday Havoc

Like any law enforcement agency’s campaign of crime prevention, the US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS.gov) has announced ways to thwart mail thievery with awareness PSAs reminding us of evil individuals focused on taking what is not theirs while also instructing on ways to protect one’s personal property.

The US Postal Inspection Service’s “Holiday Havoc” slogan is self-explanatory, but they offered this:

“This holiday season, Postal Inspectors are keeping you safe from holiday havoc! Unwatched porches, stuffed mailboxes, BEWARE. Thieves are looking to steal your holiday cheer,” the U.S. Postal Inspectors site published.

(Photo courtesy of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.)

Any of the mainstream media moguls may not offer the seasonal trend of mail thievery…and that is why I follow the United States Postal Inspection Service’s social media accounts, to see what is transpiring on the routes of its employees endeavoring to bring you good cheer (and junk mail; that is not a crime but a mere nuisance).

Stamping Out Further Damages

While U.S. Postal police officials have jurisdiction over materials stolen from your street mailbox, local law enforcement agencies bear responsibility for a host of crimes stemming from monetary-based mail snagged by illicit-minded sorts seeking an easy take.

On November 30, 2023, the Tampa, Florida police department posted a short video of a suspected mail thief who wasted no time (they know timing is essential to their criminal success of transacting the rightful owner’s funds) and went directly to what appears to be an ATM, slotted in a stolen credit card, and walked away with someone else’s savings.

Per a Tampa Police spokesperson, our “detectives are seeking assistance in identifying a suspect who fraudulently used a credit card after stealing it from a victim’s mailbox.

“To avoid becoming a victim of a similar crime, vigilantly monitor credit and debit card transactions and register for Informed Delivery through the United States Postal Service, a program that allows you to preview your mail before it’s delivered.”

In this case, the Postal police investigate the mail theft from a citizen’s mailbox and the local cops (Tampa PD) pursue a suspect to prosecute for unlawful use of a victim’s credit card.

With the advent of personal security systems like Ring doorbell cameras and banks’ surveillance cameras recording activities, police detectives have a chance of identifying culprits and jailing sticky-fingered suspects.

Sometimes, though, it is after the fact that police are notified of what appears to be mail theft, as in a case opened by the Leon County Sheriff’s Office on November 28, 2023, investigating a large scattering of other people’s mail.

(Photo courtesy of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office.)

Sifted for potential checks and monetary cards is the purpose of the scatter by thieving hands. That kind of mess is photographed and processed by deputies, with notifications made to intended recipients (victims of mail theft) who are encouraged to scrutinize their bank accounts and any other monetary means for which they have accounts.

Mail Theft Task Forces

With armed robberies of U.S. Postal letter carriers possessing tons of mail for plenty of citizens, U.S. Postal Inspection investigators often team up with local cops, with any arrests being prosecuted by United States attorneys in federal courts.

On October 26, 2023, a U.S. Post Office letter carrier was robbed at gunpoint in Raleigh, North Carolina. Raleigh Police Department personnel posted the following bulletin which was shared on USPIS boards:

This is one of many potentially violent crimes cropping up on USPIS social media sites, so it is not an isolated incident. As mentioned above, tis the season for this kind of criminality to spread like a plague, affecting many citizens at a time when peace and harmony are emphasized. Grinches have other plans.

Recently, the USPIS, “America’s first and oldest federal law enforcement agency,” published a PSA depicting plans to process Postal Police officer candidates to beef up their ranks, hoping to stem the tide of burgeoning mail theft and other crimes in their purview.

Akin to any other law enforcement organization at any level, the U.S. Postal Police have sworn federal police officers stationed at facilities where piles of parcels and loads of letters are received, processed, and routed for distribution in mailboxes across America.

(Photo courtesy of the United States Postal Inspection Service.)

Any police report generated by a U.S. Postal Police officer, that requires further investigation and identification of suspect(s), is forwarded to their suited inspectors (detectives) to pursue for prosecution.

(Photo courtesy of the USPIS.)

Given the fluid nature of our lives and the constitutional principle of people roaming freely and materials being deposited in typically publicly stanchioned locations, it is difficult to catch sinister sticky fingers in the act—hard for residents and merchants to babysit their mailbox. However, as the Tampa PD exhibited in the footage linked above, surveillance captures aid in identifying suspects after the incident and help inspectors/detectives slap cuffs on those grubby hands. 

Tis the season for Grinches wearing plain clothes committing mail theft and pursuant crimes…and U.S. Postal police bolstered by local law enforcement organizations trying to stamp out suspects’ parcel poaching and letter lifting.

Via the USPIS, “Postal Inspectors are mandated to protect each one of your special holiday cards and packages. We ensure the billions of pieces of mail getting sent this season arrive unopened, unread, and intact. Postal Inspectors, Postal Police Officers, and our specialized support staff work tirelessly to ensure your gifts and well wishes get to their destinations securely. But we could use your help.”

As such, the Postal Police offer Holiday Readiness tips to help secure what is rightly yours from getting into the wrong hands: “Check out the Mail & Package Theft page for ideas to keep your mail and packages safe,” adding, “We deliver security for the price of a stamp.”