The U.S. Postal Inspection Service

Thefts, Robberies and Burglaries

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This handgun belonged to Thomas Richards, one of the suspected criminals in the 1962 mail truck heist on a Massachusetts highway.

The postal system has long held temptations to criminals. From valuables shipped through the mail to postage stamps, money orders and other goods kept in post offices, there has always been something to attract thieves looking for a quick score.

Common targets for mail thieves are pieces containing personal and financial information, credit cards, government checks or other items with a negotiable value. Other draws are cash in greeting cards, parcels containing valuable items, and money orders. Thieves looking for bigger game target postal vehicles, collection boxes, or large group mailboxes.

It would be good for would-be thieves to know that theft or possession of stolen mail is punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000!

Some thieves decide the best way to “get rich quick” is by robbing a post office. They are generally looking for anything valuable, including cash, stamps, postal keys, money orders, and mail. Inspectors have adopted strategies to nip such attacks in the bud. Teams of postal inspectors across the country oversee the security needs of the Postal Service. They conduct risk assessments and recommend the installation of security hardware as needed. The Postal Service experiences about 100 burglaries of its more than 30,000 facilities per year, but thanks to increased security and aggressive investigations, these crimes result in only minor losses.

Penalties individuals face include prison terms of up to 10 years for unarmed robbery, and 25 years for armed robbery of a postal employee or post office. Inspectors have a standing offer of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone that has robbed or attempted to rob a post office.