Around 70,000 San Francisco residents’ mail is at risk after relay boxes were broken into Wednesday.
Postal inspectors think the relay box theft may be linked to the robbery of a mail carrier on Folsom Street between Jarboe and Tompkins avenues on March 11. Relay boxes are usually green in color and used to store mail between carriers' routes.
The U.S. Postal Service said they don’t know what pieces of mail are missing or who they belong to, but the entire 94110 ZIP code has a population of around 70,000, according to the U.S. Census. Most of the Mission, Bernal Heights and College Hill are affected.
Blue collection boxes—where you drop off outgoing mail—throughout the ZIP code have also been ransacked. Postal inspectors say it is very difficult to know which pieces of mail may have been taken from outgoing mailboxes.
Mail thieves are often hunting for information that may be useful in identity theft and bank fraud, federal officials say.
“They’re looking for banking information, credit card information. They're also looking for checks, personal identifiers that may or may not be useful for identity theft or a number of different reasons,” inspector Jeff Fitch previously told The Standard.
Thousands of letters have been sent out to residents who may have been affected, urging them to report missing mail to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
“As most first class mail does not have tracking numbers, it is not possible for USPS to know what pieces of mail were stolen, which is why the letter to customers asks them to report anything missing from the mail that could provide a lead,” postal inspector Matthew Norfleet said.
“This is an active investigation by postal inspectors,” added Norfleet. “We are asking anyone with information to contact us, whether they saw anything unusual near a mailbox, or picked up anything on a video camera or know anyone who commits this kind of crime.”
If you were expecting checks or credit cards in the mail and did not receive them and discovered that fraudulent activity has occurred, the postal inspection service says you should submit a mail theft complaint online here.
The postal inspection service says mail carrier robberies are rising across the Bay Area. The service was unable to provide The Standard any 2022 or 2023 data to support such claims, but data from 2019 to 2021 shows an increase in robbery cases nationally. Robbery cases rose from 94 in 2019 to 253 in 2021.
Reward money is available for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for mail crimes—up to $10,000 for mail theft and up to $50,000 for robbing a postal worker.
If you see suspicious activity, you are urged to call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 or 911.
Joe Burn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org