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Violent robbery of San Francisco postal worker puts residents’ mail at risk

A postal worker is sorting mail on a street, wearing sunglasses and a vest.
US Postal Service letter carrier sorts through mail as he walks his delivery route in San Francisco on July 30, 2009. | Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The violent beating and robbery of a San Francisco postal worker put thousands of city residents at risk, United States Postal Service Inspector Matthew Norfleet said Wednesday.

The attack happened around 1:40 p.m. Tuesday as the worker loaded a mail truck at the Pine Street post office in Nob Hill. A suspect approached the worker and violently beat them before stealing postal keys, Norfleet said.

Postal keys used to open mailboxes along carriers’ routes are regularly targeted by thieves hunting mail and other items from mailboxes that could be sold or used to steal identities, according to the postal service. 

Norfleet shared a limited description of the suspect caught on surveillance footage. The suspect is described as a young African American man wearing dark-colored clothing, including a mask and a hooded sweatshirt.

Surveillance footage shows a suspect who allegedly violently beat and robbed a postal worker in San Francisco's Nob Hill neighborhood on Tuesday, July 11, 2023. | Courtesy USPIS

In the video, the suspect can be seen holding postal keys on a standard postal service-issued keychain while running.

Norfleet said violence toward postal workers is outrageous and unacceptable. He explained the keys stolen could potentially affect thousands of postal service customers—effectively anyone along the route who receives mail. 

Similar robberies have happened across San Francisco in recent months, including in the Outer Sunset in February; the Mission District in March, possibly putting at least 70,000 residents at risk; and the Western Addition in May.

The alleged suspect in the violent beating and robbery of a U.S Postal Service worker is seen in a still from surveillance footage in Nob Hill. | Source: Courtesy USPIS

The U.S. 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. Nationwide, robbery cases recorded by the postal inspection service spiked from 94 in 2019 to 253 in 2021.

The postal inspection service offers a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone assaulting or robbing a postal worker.

If you think a carrier is in danger, the service asks that you call 911 and then call postal inspectors at 877-876-2455. Signs a postal worker may be in danger include vehicles following mail trucks, suspects lingering near postal boxes, or tampering with them.

Signs you may have been affected by mail theft include damaged or broken locks on mailboxes and missing or delayed expected deliveries.