MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. - Mailboxes in Montgomery County are getting broken into in several neighborhoods and police say the problem is getting worse.
Across Montgomery County, FOX 5 found several mailboxes that have been broken in to recently, including one that was tampered with right outside a post office
Thieves are targeting the big blue collection boxes looking for money and checks, and it’s part of a growing trend.
"Over the last few months we’ve seen a recent increase in mail thefts from the blue USPS mailboxes in the Bethesda and Silver Spring areas," said Lauren Ivey, Public Information Officer for Montgomery County Police Department.
FOX 5 previously reported that mail was stolen from these blue mailboxes in February and in December 2021.
The Montgomery County Police Department says detectives have had 84 reports of mail thefts across the area since the beginning of the year.
"Suspects are either prying into the mailboxes with some type of tool but also in the recent months some mail carriers have been robbed of their mail keys," Ivey said.
As for the safety of these mail carriers, one man who is trained to protect postal employees says since the pandemic, the postal service’s uniformed police force which determined the most vulnerable areas for employee safety or theft has been cut.
"For some inexplicable reason the postal service decided that that wasn’t a good use for postal police officers," said Frank Albergo, President of the Postal Police Officers Association.
The United States Postal Service says they are investigating the recent complaints but confirms there has been an increase in mail thefts, saying a variety of factors are to blame including COVID-19 and its impact on people’s lives.
"I think the pandemic is partly to blame, the benching of the Postal Police Force is partly to blame," Albergo said. "There aren’t many arrests made, that’s partly to blame. It’s a confluence of all these different factors…it’s basically going unaddressed."
Local police say the easiest thing to do to avoid becoming a victim is to go inside the post office to drop off your mail.
If you’ve used the blue box collection mailboxes to send mail recently and believe you may have been affected by the thefts USPS encourages you to report stolen mail as soon as possible by emailing CFOMT@uspis.gov, calling 877-876-2455 or submitting a complaint at www.uspis.gov/report [uspis.gov]
You should also contact your local police department. If you are in Montgomery County and have been affected, you should call the police non-emergency line at 301-279-8000.
As a reminder, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any perpetrators who have robbed or attempted to rob a USPS letter carrier. We are seeking the public’s assistance for information regarding these crimes.