Watch CBS News

Postal worker distressed about safety after being robbed of common mailbox key at gunpoint

Postal worker robbed of mail master key at gunpoint
Postal worker robbed of mail master key at gunpoint 02:07

CHICAGO (CBS) -- For years at CBS 2, we have been reporting on stolen mail – and how often stolen mail keys are the culprit.

Now, after yet another attack on a USPS mail carrier, CBS 2's Sabrina Franza spoke exclusively with that victim about what needs to change to keep letter carriers – and your mail – safe.

"He says, 'Give me everything - and I have the key in my left, my phone and pieces of mail in my right - and I just flip everything up," the letter carrier said.

At 11:42 a.m. Saturday, the 34-year-old mail carrier – whom we have kept anonymous at his request – was delivering mail in the West Loop Saturday like he has done for four years. He was working in the 1300 block of West Van Buren Street.

"The way he got out, he didn't give me the intention that he was going to rob," the mail carrier said. "I thought he was just going to shoot, just right away."

Never in a million years did the mail carrier think his route wound end in such a fashion.

"He put the gun to my stomach," the mail carrier said.

The robber took the letter carrier's arrow key – which postal workers use to open up larger mailboxes across a portion of the city.

"Targeting all mail people for their keys," the letter carrier said.

We have covered countless stories of people using stolen arrow keys to steal packages and checks. With an influx of holiday mail, postal workers are telling us that USPS odes not have a safety plan.

Last year, the U.S. Postal Service said it delivered more than 13.2 billion letters, cards, and packages from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve – exceeding 2020 by half a billion.

Letter Carrier: "We just worked, worked, worked - overtime galore; 14, 13 hours - during the pandemic."

Franza: "You worked the entire pandemic, put in overtime, and risked your health being out there - and now you're worried about your safety. Does that feel like a slap in the face?"

Letter Carrier: "I mean, they gave us dog mace. I mean, everyone is not a dog."

Postal workers are hoping their hours are pushed earlier to avoid working in darkness.

"So I think the timing could help first," the letter carrier said. "Our lives are in danger every day."

We have reached out to the USPS to see if they are working on a holiday safety plan. They did not respond to our question, but told us they recommend their workers stay "vigilant" all year round.

The full statement from U.S. Postal Inspector Public Information Officer Spencer Block is below:

"The Postal Inspection Service maintains, regardless of the time of year, that Letter Carriers and other USPS employees maintain vigilance in the neighborhoods and communities they serve. Much like for any other member of the community, we must keep our eyes open for suspicious behavior and things that seem 'out of the norm.' Additionally, Postal Inspectors advise USPS employees not to carry valuables on their person while working, whether that be jewelry, cash, etc. If a USPS employee does become the victim of a crime while conducting their official duties, they should always call local law enforcement first, followed by a call to Postal Inspectors. Our agency hotline number, 877-876-2455, is manned 24/7/365.

As for general mail theft tips for customers, there are a number of simple measures Postal customers can take to protect their mail and identity. I've listed some of them below: 

  • Do not let incoming or outgoing mail sit and accumulate in your mailbox. 
  • Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery, especially if you're expecting checks, credit cards, or other negotiable items. 
  • If you do not receive a check or other valuable mail, contact the issuing party as soon as possible. 
  • Sign up for USPS Informed Delivery to have a better idea of what mail you can expect delivered to you each day. 
  • Drop outgoing mail into a USPS collection box prior to the last daily pickup time listed on the box. Otherwise, mail it inside your local Post Office. 
  • Monitor your financial accounts and credit profiles for any fraudulent activity, even if you are not a victim of mail theft. Early detection is so important! In that vein, consider credit freezes with the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax). 

"The U.S. Postal Services delivers over 150 billion pieces of mail a year to over 150 million addresses all throughout the country. Sending mail is actually one of the most secure ways to send information and commerce. If a Postal customer does fall victim to mail theft, or identity theft as a result of mail theft, they should immediately file a report with local law enforcement, file a report with the Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455, and closely monitor their financial accounts and credit profiles to get ahead of any fraudulent activity.  

"So your viewers and readers are aware, the Postal Inspection Service conducts investigations into mail theft, mail fraud, financial crimes, violent crimes, prohibited mailings (weapons, drugs, etc.). We are the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the country, and we strive to ensure the integrity and public trust of the U.S. Mail. Like any law enforcement agency, however, the success of our investigations often correlates with the timeliness of victim reporting. As such, I would urge any victim of mail theft to contact local law enforcement and the Postal Inspection Service as soon as possible so we can better investigate the crime and hold those responsible to justice. 

"In addition to our 24/7 agency hotline telephone number, I would also refer your viewers and readers to our agency's website ( and the Chicago Division Twitter page (" 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.