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Video: Suspect steals mail keys from San Francisco postal worker

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

Postal inspectors are again hunting suspects who robbed mail carriers in the San Francisco Bay Area and put thousands of residents' mail at risk of being stolen.

At 2:12 p.m. Wednesday, a mail carrier working in San Francisco had just completed a delivery on 22nd Street in Noe Valley when a suspect ran up from the 22nd Street Jungle Steps and demanded postal keys.

The mail carrier quickly handed the keys over before the suspect turned and fled back up the steps. The worker did not suffer serious injury. 

READ MORE: Violent Robbery of San Francisco Postal Worker Puts Residents’ Mail at Risk

A postal delivery worker was robbed of mail keys on Wednesday at 22nd and Collingwood streets in San Francisco. | Courtesy US Postal Inspection Service

U.S. Postal Inspector Matthew Norfleet said thousands of San Francisco residents were potentially at risk because of the mail theft at 22nd Street due to the dense nature of city postal routes.

Although postal investigators did not share a detailed description of a suspect, they do not believe the suspect is the same man caught on video after an attack last Tuesday afternoon in Nob Hill.

In that attack, a suspect approached the worker at a Pine Street post office and violently beat them before stealing postal keys, Norfleet said.

'I'm Terrified of Someone Getting Shot'

A postal carrier working in San Pablo was approached by a suspect holding a semi-automatic handgun at 11:45 a.m. Saturday on Gerald Avenue between Shasta and Casino avenues, close to the entrance of Wildcat Canyon Regional Park.

The suspect demanded the victim's postal and vehicle keys before fleeing with both sets of keys, leaving the postal vehicle behind, possibly to keep from being followed, Norfleet said.

"I'm terrified of someone getting shot while stealing," Norfleet said Monday. "I think people don't realize how bad it is out there for carriers. When I talk to customers, most of them have no idea what they're dealing with."

Norfleet said hundreds to possibly 1,000 customers were at risk of mail theft after Saturday's robbery.

Why Are Postal Workers Being Robbed?

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

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 U.S. Postal Inspection Service says mail carrier robberies are rising across the Bay Area. The service could not provide The Standard with any 2022 or 2023 data to support such claims. Nationwide, robbery cases recorded by the postal inspection service spiked from 94 in 2019 to 253 in 2021, according to the service's own data. 

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 and 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.

George Kelly can be reached at