The United States Postal Inspection Service is offering a reward for the arrest and conviction of suspects after recent armed robberies of letter carriers.
One of the robberies took place on May 23 in Boca Raton on Northwest 15 Vista at approximately 3:35 PM. the male subject was described as approximately 5’6” to 5’7” tall with a skinny build (approximately 140 to 150 pounds.) The subject was wearing a full mask covering his face, possibly wearing a dark colored sweater and pants. The subject fled on foot and may have entered a small black vehicle. The Postal Inspection Service recommends that you take no action to apprehend this person yourself. If you have any information about this incident, please contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 and say “law enforcement” reference case # 3736820. All information will be kept strictly confidential.
A second robbery took place on May 26 on Atlantis Drive in Fort Pierce shortly after noon. The subject was described as a young Black male, skinny (approximately 150lbs.), between 5’ 5” and 5’7” tall. He was wearing an all-black Polo brand jump/tracksuit (hoodie and pants) with a red symbol. The subject fled in a dark colored 4-door Lexus sedan. The postal inspection service advises that you take no action to apprehend this person yourself, but if you do have any information about the incident, please contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 and say “law enforcement” reference case # 3740209. All information will be kept strictly confidential.
A third armed robbery took place in Fort Pierce on North 40th Street on July 13 at about 12:15 PM. The subject was described as a black male with a slim build (approximately 160 pounds) and about 6’ tall, in his late 20s, wearing all dark clothing. U.S. Postal Inspection Service warns take no action to apprehend this person yourself. If you have any information about this incident, please contact the US postal inspection service at 877-876-2455 and say “law enforcement.” Reference case number 3770838. All information will be kept strictly confidential.
In each of these robberies a reward of up to $50,000 is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect.
According to Postal Inspector/PIO Ivan Ramirez armed robberies of postal employees are not common but are also not new. Any theft involving the postal service is a federal crime but there are different types. Often, a theft occurs as a crime of opportunity. Someone might grab a package or something. Usually no threats of violence are involved, and no weapons are used.
“If you brandish a weapon, that’s a whole different ball game,” said Ramirez. “The punishment will not be just a slap on the wrist.”
Most recently, the crimes involving the postal service seem to be related to identity theft/fraud. Ramirez explained the thief is not really looking for information about you from your mail anymore. Now, the thief is looking for a good mailbox to receive the fraudulent cards he/she applies for. Ramirez said many apartment complexes or mobile home parks have a mailbox setup where each individual box owner has a key to his own mailbox, but there is also a key that the mail carrier uses to open the entire box. If a thief can get his hands on one of those keys, he can use it to retrieve mail without the actual box owner even noticing. Normally, if you receive a credit card application in someone else’s name to your address, you might become a little suspicious, but if the thief is able to check the mail before you ever see it, you have no reason to suspect your address is being used at all. The thief does not even have to have a key to every box out there, because there is a good chance the key he stole could be used on another box or could be modified to work elsewhere.
“I always use the example of the Home Depot toolbox,” said Ramirez. “If I go into Home Depot and buy a toolbox, and you go to the Home Depot in Boca or in some other state, the chance that the keys to our toolboxes open each other is pretty good. That can happen. There’s only so many combinations out there for locks and locking mechanisms. This is why we are very adamant about getting the word out about the apartment mailboxes to get the management to rekey these locks as soon as possible.”
Ramirez theorized the robberies could be gang related, especially as the perpetrators were described as young. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has not ruled out the possibility that the recent robberies are related. He also reiterated the crimes could happen anywhere because the thief is not really looking for anything he might just happen upon in a mailbox in an affluent area. He is looking for an address to which he can have the mail, fraudulent cards, fraudulent IRS tax returns, benefits, etc. mailed. “The initial part of an identity theft doesn’t always begin with the post office box. That’s not to say they couldn’t get lucky and steal someone’s mail and get some information… They don’t want to go through hundreds of mailboxes hoping for a lucky strike. Now, they need an address to send the cards and benefits they’ve applied for. For this, they need a key.”
“We take these crimes very seriously, and of course, the safety of our employees is paramount,” said Ramirez.