U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is telling the U.S. postmaster and the Post Office inspector general to address the rash of mail thefts and postal robberies that have taken hold in the Dayton area and across the nation.
Brown, D-Ohio, calls on the postal service to reverse its “wrongheaded decision” to prevent Postal Police Officers from protecting routes and letter carriers.
He asks for a response within 30 days.
“Postal robberies and mail theft are federal crimes, and federal police officers should patrol postal carrier routes. That responsibility should not be pushed onto overwhelmed local law enforcement personnel,” Brown wrote to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Inspector General Whitcomb Hull in a letter Brown’s office released Friday. “It is imperative that the USPS reverse its wrongheaded decision and immediately restore the patrolling functions of the Postal Police Officers.”
This follows a Dayton Daily News investigation that found a rash of local mail thefts coincides with a reported 17-fold nationwide increase in checks stolen from the U.S. mail being posted for sale online.
The newspaper reported that Frank Albergo, national president of the postal police officers association, said mail theft arrests dropped from more than 2,000 in fiscal year 2019 to a projected 1,200 in fiscal 2022 after a federal policy restricted their arrest powers in 2020.
“It’s a disaster, it really is,” Albergo said.
Officials in the Dayton region have reported that they are investigating a recent rash of mail-related crime. Items were stolen from at least seven post office mailboxes in Beavercreek, Dayton, Kettering and the Centerville/Washington Twp. area.
“Sadly, I fear that these robberies are enabled by the (Postal Service’s) misguided decision to halt the practice of having Postal Police Officers (PPO) — members of the nation’s first and oldest federal law enforcement agency — patrolling along mail carrier routes and around USPS collection boxes,” Brown wrote in his letter. “This decision is making mail carriers and the communities they serve less safe, and must be reversed.”
Before this directive, postal police officers routinely escorted carriers in locations with “higher risk of robberies,” Brown said.
He cited “brazen armed robberies” in Dayton, Trotwood, Norwood, College Hill, Covington, Madeira, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Groveport and elsewhere in Ohio.
“This appears to be an organized criminal effort, where mail carriers are targeted for their ‘universal’ arrow keys that can open multiple USPS collection boxes,” the senator said. “The contents of the mailboxes are stolen and later sold online — costing Ohio residents millions. According to an internal USPS memo, there has been a 400 percent increase in postal robberies since 2019.”