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SF Residents At Risk For Mail Theft After Master Key Slips Into Wrong Hands

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- One of the master mailbox keys that belongs to the USPS slipped into the wrong hands in San Francisco, leaving everyone in the 94109 zip code at risk for having their mail stolen.

Victims were told the thieves used a special key to break into their mailboxes, and that the same key could potentially give those thieves access to apartment lobbies, and other mailboxes in the zip code.

Anyone with an intercom box can basically their building is wide open to these guys," Caxton Rhodes said.

Rhodes lives in this apartment complex on Van Ness Avenue, a building thieves broke into three times in August.

"It's disturbing but its reality these days though," Rhodes said.

But, the building's security system caught it all on camera.

The video shows a man and woman using what authorities believe is a either a copy, or a real USPS master key to get inside the building.

Within minutes, the couple used the same key to open all mailboxes and walked away with neighbors' mail, packages and Rhodes' new credit card.

"At six o'clock at night I get a call from American Express saying we want to check out, we may have some fraudulent charges on your card," Rhodes said.

Caxton said it was $5,000 worth of fraudulent charges.

Now, federal agents are involved in the investigation.

"We take these investigations very seriously, potential penalty up to ten years in prison for a counterfeit or real key," Postal Inspector Sot: Jeff Fitch said.

Fitch says that's not including the mail theft charge.

"In addition to the charge for stolen key or counterfeit key we also have the mail theft charge which is also a federal offense potential penalty up to five years in federal prison," Fitch said.

But, first the feds need to catch the suspects, and figure out how they got the key in the first place

"We've been told that it was likely either stolen from USPS or an employee or disgruntled employee might have sold one," Rhodes said.

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