Credit: Needham Observer

Thefts of letters from mailboxes in town are again on the rise, and Needham Police are urging residents not to use outdoor mailboxes.

The latest incidents involved reported thefts on Jan. 2 at a Great Plain Avenue mailbox and on Jan. 8 at a box located at Brookline and Falcon streets.

“Needham detectives are working with the U.S. postal inspectors as well as other departments,” said Deputy Chief Chris Baker. Because the Postal Service is a federal agency, he said the postal inspectors handle these cases.

U.S. postal inspector Danielle Schrage said they cannot provide information on specific actions they are taking because it’s a pending investigation. In a written response to the Observer, she said since May the Postal Service has expanded its safety efforts nationally, replacing more than 10,000 blue collection boxes with new high-security collection boxes. They also are replacing key locks with electronic mechanisms to deter the stealing of postal keys from letter carriers. 

In addition to the official collection boxes, home mailboxes are being hit as well. Last month mail containing a check was stolen from the box of a South Street resident who had put her mail out for regular pickup and noticed her box was open before her letter carrier arrived. She was subsequently alerted by her bank that the check had been cashed, and the thieves had increased its amount to $4,500. The bank reimbursed her. She alerted Needham police as well as her neighbors, and now drives to the post office to hand-deliver her mail to the clerks. 

Although it’s gotten more sophisticated, mail theft is nothing new. It dates back to the earliest days of the Postal Service when Pony Express riders and mail trains were regularly robbed, and mail personnel and facilities had to be armed. Schrage said that in 2022 the U.S. Postal Inspection Service made 1,258 arrests for mail theft. 

She offered these steps to reduce risks:

  • Don’t let incoming or outgoing mail sit in your mailbox; remove mail from your mailbox every day.  
  • Deposit outgoing mail through secure manners including inside your local Post Office or at your place of business or by handing it to a letter carrier. 
  • Sign up for Informed Delivery and get daily digest emails that preview your mail and packages scheduled to arrive. 
  • Keep an eye out for your letter carrier. If you see something that looks suspicious, or you see someone following your carrier, call 911, then notify postal inspectors at 1-877-876-2455.

Needham Deputy Chief Baker added that residents should avoid mailing letters over long weekends. “When there’s been a lot of mail accumulating, that’s generally going to be enticing to those people that do this,” he said. “And never mail cash. The banks are not going to refund you that.”

 Save as PDF

Click here to go Home