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If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you might have noticed that it seems like robberies of United States Postal Service mail carriers and mail trucks have been on the rise. And you aren’t wrong. In 2018, there were 80 mail carrier robberies reported. In 2021, that number tripled to more than 260. So, what’s going on with USPS mail trucks, and what is this agency’s plan to combat crime?

Why do people rob mail carriers?

There are several reasons a criminal might be interested in targeting a USPS mail truck or postal carrier for a robbery. They might be hoping to score some cash or a check that is in the mail. But, the crime can also be much more serious than that. 

A USPS mail truck sits in a neighborhood.
Postal Service mail truck | IFCAR

Mail carriers often have something that is known as a master key. This key opens all locked mailboxes, such as the ones inside an apartment building. The key is also used to unlock USPS collection boxes, those blue boxes that you can place packages or mail in. 

For a criminal, this master key can be a pretty attractive item to get their hands on. But, the USPS is extremely protective of them. According to CBS News, at the end of a mail carrier’s shift, they must turn the key over. Ensuring that it stays safe from those who have ill intent. 

Is attacking a postal worker a federal crime?

Simply put, because the USPS is a federal agency, robbing a mail truck can be considered a federal offense. In fact, the Postal Service has its own law enforcement arm, which defends the nation’s mail system. Known as the United States Postal Inspection Service, it dates back to the early days of the United States. And needless to say, USPIS takes its job extremely seriously. 

The Inspector badge for the United States Postal Inspection Service, USPIS.
USPIS Inspector badge | Dominic Bracco via Getty Images

Although some criminals might think robbing the USPS is something worth doing. If or when they get caught, the consequences can be pretty severe. And ultimately, crime usually does not pay. Especially when committed against such a vital public service. 

What is USPS doing about crime?

On October 20th, 2022, a group of United States Senators reached out to USPS. The purpose was to inquire what the agency was doing about the uptick in robberies and other crimes being committed against its workers. In 2011, a similar crime epidemic happened against the Postal Service, and leadership was quick to act. Alerting postal carriers and employees with instructions and precautions to take if there was a crime in their vicinity. 

A USPS mail truck sits on the road, there has been an uptick in robberies of mail trucks.
USPS mail truck | Getty Images

It’s unclear what the current plan is to tackle this issue. But one can only hope that the USPS is taking the proper steps to protect its mail trucks and employees. That way, folks know that when they mail something, it is not falling into the wrong hands. 

Nobody wants to lose a check in the mail, but every day there are things that are probably more important than money getting mail. Many folks get vital medicine shipped through the mail. Plus, the USPS even handles mail-in ballots. And it is important that those items go to where they are supposed to.


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