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Mail thieves hold up letter carriers in Sacramento County, stealing master key to mailboxes

By Michelle Bandur

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    SACRAMENTO, California (KCRA) — Investigators said mail thieves in California are targeting letter carriers who carry master keys to the clusters of mailboxes.

“The keys access several mailboxes, so the mail thieves see that as a more efficient way to steal mail,” said postal inspector Matthew Norfleet.

In two recent incidents in Sacramento County, armed suspects held up two letter carriers. The crimes took place within three days and 10 miles of each other.

The first one took place inside the Rivercrest Apartment Complex on Dec. 17 at 6 p.m.

The suspect was armed with a semi-automatic handgun that the carrier believed was a Glock with a red and white striped camo slide.

A vehicle was seen near the mailboxes at the same time of the robbery, investigators said. The vehicle left the apartment complex approximately 15 seconds after the suspect ran past the camera. Investigators can’t say if it’s connected.

“It worries me at all levels because we would not want to lose a letter carrier because of them being robbed,” said Keisha Lewis, national business agent for the National Association of Letter Carriers.

She said employees are becoming more fearful on the job and want to see safety changes, such as not working for hours in the dark.

“We need to make sure post offices are properly staffed so letter carriers can get off at a decent time,” Lewis said.

The second Sacramento County incident took place on Dec. 20, around 2:30 p.m. in Rio Linda. Investigators said two men got out of a light grey Dodge Charger, one wearing a black mask and robbed the postal worker by gunpoint, taking the mailbox key.

A second male suspect attempted to open the passenger side door of the postal mail truck.

Neighbors told investigators the Charger made a loud exhaust sound while speeding away.

Sacramento Valley Crime Stoppers featured the two armed robberies of letter carriers as the crime of the week.

Some postal inspectors are now following letter carriers on their routes, trying to prevent other violent hold-ups.

Norfleet was in the Bay Area, wearing his ballistic gear while watching letter carriers deliver the mail.

“I am out right now with letter carriers keeping eyes open, so no one approaches them,” Norfleet said. “It’s terrible. This is not the first report of letter carriers being held up at gunpoint, and it’s absolutely unacceptable.”

Lewis also asks the community to look out for letter carriers when they deliver mail on their routes.

Neither of the letter carriers was hurt in the robberies. Possessing a mail key and assaulting a letter carrier are federal crimes.

Lewis said the NALC has requested a meeting with postal inspectors, the Postal Service and the Office of Inspector General. She said they want to ask for safety measures and protection.

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