USPS investigates Memphis mail theft

Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 10:25 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A new warning about thieves stealing mail in Memphis. The postal inspector confirms the United States Postal Service is investigating a major mail theft from its post office in Oakhaven at 3715 Winchester.

That warning comes not from USPS, but from a customer who discovered none of her bills had been paid on time. She put them into a mailbox outside the Oakhaven facility one month ago.

This week, her creditors said her bills were late. So now she’s sounding the alarm for anyone else who put important letters into those blue boxes.

”I was floored. I was mad,” Patricia Rogers said. “A month later I’m just finding out the mailbox where I put my mail had been broken into, and I’m just baffled they did not alert their customers.

”Memphis Postal Inspector Susan Link said, “This is an active investigation and unfortunately, we can not speak about the investigation itself.”

Link said USPS advised customers not to place their mail in the blue boxes outside if:

1. The box appears to be full or

2. It is after the last collection time posted on the box

Rogers said she put her letters into the slot at 3:30 in the afternoon, well before the 5:00 p.m. final pick-up time noted on the mailbox.

”I came up here yesterday,” she said, “and talked to a supervisor. He said ‘ma’am, let me tell you what’s going on. We are getting tons of calls.’ He said some people actually had their checks cashed.”

Memphis isn’t the only city dealing with blue box mail thefts, it appears to be a troubling trend nationwide. A quick Google search revealed news reports on similar crimes in St. Louis, Dayton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Austin, Baltimore, and Washington D.C., all happening this year.

Some thieves are looking for quick cash and gift cards. Security experts said more sophisticated crooks will steal personal checks and alter them. Others will sell the checks, and users’ personal information, on the dark web.

USPS won’t discuss how the thefts are occurring. In some cities, criminals reportedly used universal keys, known as arrow keys, to open the boxes.

Zadie Jefferson was disappointed to find out her go-to post office on Winchester is now part of the problem.

”That is a federal crime,” she said, “and if you’re caught, you’re going to jail and you’re going to get a felony.”

Patricia Rogers is a well-known community advocate who fights blight and government mismanagement in Memphis. Now she’s taking on the United States Postal Service, warning others about what happened.

”Because I don’t want anyone else to be shocked like I was when I got my bills in the mail with the unpaid balances,” said Rogers, “and USPS has been awful quiet about this situation and that concerns me.

”Rogers said her bank canceled the cashier’s checks she mailed to pay her bills, and her creditors wiped away the late fees, so she’s not out any money, but she’s still frustrated by the experience.

If you discover your mail was stolen out of one of the collection boxes, USPS asks that you report it by calling: 1-877-876-2455.

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