Glenn Puit of the Review-Journal reported this week that postal investigators have “received thousands of complaints about missing or stolen mail in southern Nevada” over the past year. Still, U.S. Postal Inspection Service officials say they don’t have definitive statistics on mail theft because of problems with collecting and analyzing complaints.
Which tells you everything you need to know about the priorities of the US Postal Service.
The agency’s grope-in-the-dark strategy isn’t limited to Las Vegas. A 2020 NBC News report found that the Postal Service had “no reliable system for tracking mail theft.” A statement from the agency explained that “the reporting system allows an individual to classify their complaint as mail theft, however, the system is not designed to automatically discern which of these complaints are legitimate U.S. mail theft. “.
The Postal Service insisted it was working to remedy the problem. “For fiscal year 2021,” the statement explained to NBC, “we are developing a plan to more effectively capture our internal review of these complaints to track and report mail theft complaint data.”
It certainly inspires confidence that after 250 years the Postal Service has not yet developed a plan to combat or analyze the problem. NBC reported that agency officials claimed they had no theft data going back more than three years.
Mr. Puit, through a Freedom of Information Act request, determined that some 3,124 complaints of stolen mail had been filed in the Las Vegas area since February 2021. The NBC report, which also supported a FOIA request, found that nationwide mail theft reports were up about 600% between 2107 and 2020.
The agency’s apathy over mail theft extends to the investigative process. Complaints are rarely investigated thoroughly and it is common that victims never receive a follow-up call.
Theft may involve break and enters into cluster residential mailboxes and carrier thefts. Thieves also use “mailbox fishing”, in which they stick a long, thin object sprinkled with glue on the end into a Postal Service collection device and remove as much mail as they can. NBC news noted that the agency has developed more secure boxes, but vulnerable devices still dominate in Las Vegas.
Incredibly, a local postman said he does not recommend customers use drive-thru mailboxes at local post offices. So why are they there?
Postal Inspector Trevor Hudson told Mr Well that mail thieves “keep changing and evolving”. The same cannot be said for the postal service. Mail theft is more than a minor annoyance for businesses, senior citizens dependent on Social Security checks, or victims of identity theft.
And the problem will continue to grow unless the Postal Service takes concrete steps to address it.