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Mail theft continues to be a major problem in Queens

Mail theft continues to be a major problem in Queens
Mail theft continues to be a major problem in Queens 03:56

NEW YORK -- Neighbors on 21st Street in Astoria, Queens have reached a breaking point.

"What is going on here? We feel abandoned, we feel unheard, and we feel violated, quite frankly," Christina Fraioli said.

The problem lies with a pair of green U.S. Postal Service relay boxes, postal storage used to lighten the load for mail carriers. Season after season, relay box break-ins are caught on camera at the corner of 23rd Avenue and mail bags are seen hoisted into getaway cars.

From Bayside to Woodside, locals told CBS New York that paychecks and driver's licenses have disappeared in transit.

The USPS acknowledges that mail theft is on the rise. Deeming the information proprietary, USPS declined to address CBS New York's questions about its mail theft prevention strategy. Instead, the organization pointed to Project Safe Delivery, its initiative to enhance security for some blue collection boxes and green relay boxes, along with community and employee outreach.

With mail theft on the rise in Queens, what's being done to stop it? 04:38

"It's a disaster," said Frank Albergo, president of the Postal Police Officers Association.

He argues the postal police, a uniformed division of postal law enforcement, is underutilized.

"Criminals want those arrow keys," he said. "The arrow keys give access to all the mail receptacles in a given zip code."

The universal key is motivating bribery and robbery, police say. A mail carrier assault was reported in Woodhaven on March 7.

"The postal workers, who are doing their best, are being beaten up for this," Astoria resident Jane Hamilton said.

Fraioli said she wants the green boxes on her corner eliminated or at least double-locked.

"Nothing has been done. The locks haven't been changed. A second lock hasn't been added," she said.

"The bullet lock is, basically, an additional locking mechanism that should protect the mail even further," Albergo said.

Across Queens, bullet locks on relay boxes are visibly broken or missing.

"Something has to be done," Astoria resident Christel Klug said. "This is not safe for anybody."

You can email Elle with Queens story ideas by CLICKING HERE

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