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Queens residents baffled after USPS moves relay boxes targeted by thieves around the corner from previous location

Queens residents frustrated by USPS response to relay box thefts
Queens residents frustrated by USPS response to relay box thefts 02:38

NEW YORK - A pair of green mailboxes, a notorious break-in target in Astoria, used to sit on 23rd Avenue.

"I'm crossing the street, and all of a sudden, I see the boxes moved, and I just kind of stopped, and I kind of laughed a little bit," Astoria resident Christina Fraioli said.

Neighbors, realizing the boxes were shuffled roughly 40 feet around the corner, call it baffling after what they've been through.

"It's just kind of a slap in the face," Fraioli said.

The relay boxes, used by letter carriers for mail storage, have been a target of theft caught on camera repeatedly over the course of months. Victims calling for increased mail security say that's not what they got.

Built to accommodate a second lock, each box still only has one, opened by a master key known as an arrow key.

"They actually moved the boxes much closer to where the people stealing the mail had parked their truck last time," Fraioli said.

USPS told CBS New York the boxes were moved temporarily to accommodate a Department of Transportation construction project.

Locals question the postal service's priorities.

"We're talking about people's medications," neighbor Milan Kowalewski said. "People are getting credit cards opened in their names, bank accounts opened in their names. Now, everyone's concerned about identity theft.

It's an issue of security and physical safety. Postal workers are not only bribed for their arrow keys but also mugged. One such attack was caught on video in Millburn, New Jersey, in May.

Mail theft victims across the borough say USPS has failed to provide fraud protection, financial support or a way to stay updated.

USPS told us they notified locals after relay box break-ins.

"We haven't received anything," Fraioli said.

The postal service insists it's committed to securing mail and is already getting rid of arrow keys and upgrading locks in select cities.

Locals here hope theirs gets selected soon.

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