Lawmakers examine increase in mail theft, mail carrier robberies

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mail theft is on the rise, and it often involves criminals robbing mail carriers, according to testimony from a Congressional field hearing held Wednesday.

Members of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations held the hearing in Philadelphia because Pennsylvania has been hit hard by the spike in stolen mail.

Previous hearings about the issue were held in Baltimore and Chicago.

“Mail theft and mail-related crime have skyrocketed in Pennsylvania and across the nation,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA).

Connolly said data from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) shows that between 2018 and 2021, robberies of mail carriers nationwide more than tripled and robberies involving a gun more than quadrupled.

One USPS mail carrier from Chester County, PA testified about getting attacked on the job.

“I was assaulted, shoved to the ground, fracturing a rib and spraining my back,” said Joe Dobbins.

In a May 2022 letter to Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) in response to her inquiry about the rise in mail theft in Washington D.C., a representative from USPS outlined changes underway to address the problem.

“Postal Inspectors here have worked closely with the Postal Service to install security modifications and infrastructure upgrades,” wrote James Cari, a Government Relations Representative for the U.S. Postal Service. “These efforts include hardening collection boxes, reinforcing Post Office lobby walls for added security, installing cameras in postal facilities, and prioritizing investigations linked to stolen checks that are subsequently washed, altered, and negotiated for payment.”

Cari also weighed in on why we may be seeing the spike in mail theft.

He pointed to likely factors including the mailing of stimulus checks and unemployment insurance benefits during the pandemic.

Consumers said they are hoping improvements are made quickly.

“I’ve sent letters to different states and people I’ve sent them to haven’t received them,” said Gail Solod, a Washington D.C. resident. “I think that something definitely needs to change.”