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Reward offered in recent East Bay attacks on U.S. Postal workers

Disabled retiree in Oakland struggling to pay bills because of East Bay mail thefts
Disabled retiree in Oakland struggling to pay bills because of East Bay mail thefts 03:36

OAKLAND -- Postal officials on Monday said they are determined to break up a criminal ring that they say is targeting mail carriers in two East Bay cities.

A reward is being offered to help inspectors find the people behind recent attacks on postal workers in Oakland and Emeryville that began last year. Oakland's Postmaster says mail carriers have reported increases in robberies, assaults and break-ins while they are on the job.

Postal officials say these attacks now happening almost every week. 

"Well just in the last several months, from the locks being shot out of the back of the LLVs [long-life vehicles] to people jumping out of cars and putting guns in our letter carriers faces, it's been really bad," said Edward Fletcher, President of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Chapter 1111.

Federal inspectors said there is a criminal ring behind these attacks where thieves will sell the stolen mail or use the information to steal someone's identity.

It is a very scary situation for mail carriers. The crimes are also impacting when some residents in Oakland.  

Lucia Broughton is a disabled retiree. She is frustrated because her mail has been weeks late or not delivered at all.  

"[It] just came in and it's due today," said Broughton as she opened a bill. "To not get your bills is one thing. But when you start messing with people's finances, then it has a boomerang effect if you're missing one check or two checks. I'm retired." 

At first she didn't think too much of it until her neighbors started asking questions about missing mail. One day, Broughton saw the mail carrier and asked them about it.  

"Carrier says, 'We'll it's something that's known at all the offices. We're getting robbed for mail and our keys, and also our vehicles are being stolen,'" Broughton said. 

Jeff Fitch is a U.S. postal inspector in Oakland. He said the robberies are serious and several investigations have been launched.   

"We are seeing robberies and we've had an increase across the Bay Area. We've had a number of robberies in Oakland. We've had robberies in San Francisco," said Fitch. 

Fitch said there are investigations stretching from Vallejo to Hayward and Sunnyvale the Berkeley. 

"Our goal is to identify and arrest these individuals that are responsible," he said. 

Fitch doesn't know why these mail carrier robberies are happening more and more. He said attractive items move through the mail system all the time 

Fitch also told KPIX that USPS is working with local and state law enforcement to investigate these crimes.  

Authorities are offering a $50,000 reward for information on the people behind these attacks. The penalty for robbing a postal worker is up to 25 years in prison. 

Anyone who has information regarding these crimes is asked to call the U.S. Postal Services' 24-hour tip line at 877-876-2455. 

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