Two U.S. Postal Service workers were robbed of their keys at gunpoint Thursday within 15 minutes of each other in Montgomery County.
The robber in each case demanded the letter carrier’s “arrow key,” which is a universal key that unlocks the blue collection boxes.
Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center call logs show that law enforcement believes the robberies — which happened in Dayton and Trotwood — involve the same suspect but it is not clear whether they are connected to a string of standalone post office box thefts earlier this year across the region.
As of May, items had been stolen from at least seven different post office mailboxes in Beavercreek, Dayton, Kettering and the Centerville/Washington Twp. area.
No injuries were reported Thursday and no mail was stolen, according to dispatch records.
The first robbery was reported at 12:39 p.m. in the 2900 block of Melbourne Avenue in Dayton. The second was reported at 12:51 p.m. in the 400 block of Malden Avenue in Trotwood, according to dispatch records.
“This matter is being investigated by the United States Postal Service,” said Dayton police Lt. Steven Bauer of the Violent Crimes Bureau.
Cincinnati Field Office Postal Inspector Nicole Lutz said that postal inspectors also responded to the robbery scenes.
“Our office currently has an active investigation and is working with our local law enforcement partners to follow up leads at this time,” she said. “We are asking the public if anyone has any knowledge of the robberies to contact the Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.”
The Dayton letter carrier said he just pulled up on Melbourne Avenue to deliver mail on his route when a man with a gun wearing a teal or aqua blue hooded sweatshirt, black shorts and red athletic shoes walked up to his truck as he was getting out, according to a 911 call.
The caller said the gunman asked for the arrow key, but that he didn’t have one.
“He took my whole set of keys,” the letter carrier said, including the keys to the USPS mail truck.
The letter carrier robbed in Trotwood did have an arrow key, according to his 911 call.
“He took the key and he ran up the street, hopped in a car and took off,” he told a dispatcher.
The gunman was wearing a light green hoodie, but the carrier said he did not get a look at his shoes. He described the vehicle as a small black Nissan, but said it was too far away for him to read the license plate. The second carrier also said he believed there may have been two other males involved, according to dispatch records.
A May 14 Dayton Police Department incident report stated a key that “unlocks all mailboxes in the Dayton area” had been stolen the previous week.
A few days later, four people were arrested at a Kettering apartment in connection to mailbox thefts at the Forrer Boulevard blue mailbox that involved a stolen key. Investigators said at they time they believed more people were involved and that there was another key being used to steal mail.
In July, a Dayton man was arrested in connection to another Kettering post office mailbox theft.
No formal charges against any of the five suspects arrested have been filed at this time.
Area law enforcement has received reports of dozens of check thefts from blue mail collection boxes this year.
Kettering Police Chief Chip Protsman said earlier this year that these thefts are happening throughout the region and the country.
“We know from other incidents, they steal checks, they alter the checks and then cash those,” he said.
USPS representatives earlier this year said mail is still safe, but offered the following tips to prevent theft:
- Place outgoing mail in the USPS blue collection boxes before the day’s last pick-up time, which is labeled on the front of the boxes. That ensures outgoing mail will be processed that day.
- Walk inside a post office and place outgoing mail inside a mail receptacle or hand it to a postal clerk at the counter.
- Those who believe they may have been a victim of mail theft should contact the Postal Inspection service at 877-876-2455 to file a report.