TAMPA, FLORIDA — Abigail Duddy’s usually tranquil South Tampa neighborhood has been disturbed by a surge in criminal activity. This disturbance includes thefts by porch pirates and, recently, a more serious incident where the local mail carrier, a well-liked figure in the community, was robbed at gunpoint. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has confirmed four such robberies in different areas since August 23. Two arrests have been made by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in connection with one of the robberies.
Brian Obst, president of the local branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers, says that such incidents are creating a growing sense of worry among mail carriers. He attributes part of the issue to the placement of mailbox clusters in locations where carriers are not easily observed, making them more vulnerable to criminal approaches. In his view, delivering mail from house to house seems safer due to the prevalence of doorbell cameras. The perpetrators appear to be primarily interested in obtaining the mail carriers’ keys.
Obst stated that some people are looking for ways to obtain the keys without committing armed robbery, trying instead to persuade carriers to hand them over. The United States Postal Inspection Service is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the robberies. Convicted individuals could face a maximum of 25 years in federal prison.
The Postal Service is implementing measures to ensure the safety of its employees and secure the mail from theft, such as expanding the Project Safe Delivery crime prevention initiative. These measures intend to safeguard postal employees and facilities, prevent mail and package theft, and legally address individuals committing crimes against postal employees or engaging in mail and package theft. The increasing number of incidents highlights a growing concern for the safety of mail carriers, emphasizing the need for heightened security and vigilance in areas where mail is delivered.