CLEVELAND — At the same time postal customers are being charged more to mail letters and packages, complaints of mail theft are skyrocketing while postal police are being ordered to stop investigating.
Our investigation into customer complaints of missing and stolen mail revealed nearly 300,000 complaints in a recent 12-month period—a whopping 161 percent increase over the year before. Yet the postal service has ordered postal police to stop patrol duties they say help safeguard the nation’s mail and letter carriers—instead confining them to post office properties.
Frank Albergo, President of the Postal Police Association, says it's a rising problem and that postal police have long been an effective crime fighting tool in preventing mail theft. “I mean, people aren’t going to see a postal police officer and say hey—I think I’m going to rob this letter carrier or steal this tray of mail,” he said.
In response to a Freedom of Information request, the postal inspection service said, “it does not track missing mail,” even though it provides a “Find Missing Mail” form on its website where postal customers are told they can initiate a search.
The postal service said it has received 2,865,845 inquiries related to daily mail service in the last five years and added that “these inquiries do not necessarily indicate that mail is in fact missing.”
The postal service's own Office of Inspector General, in response to a congressional inquiry over mail theft during the pandemic, issued a report that shed light. The report said that the Postal Inspection Service received 299,020 mail theft complaints from March 2020 through February 2021—an increase of 184,564 compared to the same period the year before.
The numbers are not surprising to postal customers here in Northeast Ohio.
Angella Brown says she has consistently been a victim of missing mail, including a gold ring she was expecting to be delivered.
“I don’t understand why packages are not coming,“ said Brown.
Jessica Cook also complained repeatedly to the Post Office without success over her missing mail and fears of identity theft.
“I don’t want my Social Security number out there, my name out there, my account information,” said Cook.
Denise Walsh insured Christmas packages that were sent to her son. They never arrived, and she waited nine months to be reimbursed.
“We can’t trust the postal service,” said Walsh.
Claims for insured packages also increased significantly, from 591,028 in 2018 to 704,152 in 2020.
So far this year, claims for insured packages that are lost, stolen, missing or damaged hit 351,091 in June—on track to meet or exceed those 2020 numbers.