Thefts from USPS blue boxes continue to plague Dayton area communities

There’s a growing concern around the places where people drop off their mail for delivery, along with the safety of those who deliver it.

Huber Heights police say a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier was robbed by an armed man Saturday morning in a Huber Heights apartment complex.

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Crews were dispatched at 10:10 a.m. to an apartment complex at the 7600 block of Mt. Whitney, off Taylorsville Road just east of Old Troy Pike, according to the Huber Heights Police Division.

The suspect, a man in dark clothing wearing a ski mask, showed a firearm and stole the mail carrier’s mail bag, mail scanner and cellphone, police said.

The Postal Service worker did not report any injuries to police.

Officers found the mail bag, scanner and cellphone case in an apartment complex just east along Taylorsville, in the 7500 block of Mount Hood.

A police K9 was called in to track the suspect, but was unable to find him, police said.

The case remains under investigation by Huber Heights police.

Police in West Carrollton are the latest to warn residents to not use the outdoor blue collection boxes outside U.S. Post Office branches.

The West Carrollton Police Department on Friday reported three separate thefts between Jan. 1 and Jan. 6 in which checks written out in large amounts were stolen out of the blue drop boxes at the Post Office’s West Carrollton branch, 901 East Central Ave., said officer Chris Fairchild, spokesman for West Carrollton Police Department.

All three cases have been forwarded to the department’s fraud unit for investigation, Fairchild said Monday.

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“We want to encourage citizens to not use these collection boxes for now,” the department posted on social media Friday. “Instead, go inside the actual post office and use their drop station to send your outgoing mail.”

West Carrollton police said the thefts seem to be an ongoing issue, not just in its jurisdiction, but other area jurisdictions, as well. “Thieves are stealing mail and changing the amount and payee information on checks,” police said.

The Beavercreek Police Department on Jan. 3 also reported recent thefts and warned residents about the dangers of using the outdoor boxes.

“If you are paying bills by mail and have utilized the blue boxes in the past, we encourage you to begin delivering your outgoing mail to the drop off stations inside the post office,” the Beavercreek Police Department said in a press release.

Mail theft has been an ongoing problem across the country and in the Dayton area.

There were thefts last year from at least seven different post office mail boxes in Beavercreek, Dayton, Kettering and Centerville/Washington Twp., amounting to thousands of dollars in stolen checks.

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In September, two postal workers were robbed at gunpoint within 15 minutes of each other in Dayton and Trotwood. In both cases the robber reportedly demanded the letter carrier’s “arrow key,” which is a universal key that unlocks the blue collection boxes.

At least seven people were arrested between May and July in connection to mailbox thefts in the area, according to U.S. Postal Inspection Service spokeswoman Nicole Lutz of the Cincinnati Field Office, who said there are active investigations into the mail theft activity.

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Keith D. Calahan, 23, of Dayton; Leonard A. Blackstone, 19, of Kettering; Jeff Weaver, 22, of Centerville; and Amond N. Turner, 22, of Trotwood; were arrested in the 3200 block of Gracemore Avenue in connection to the May 19, 2022, theft from outdoor mailboxes at the Forrer Boulevard post office in Kettering, police said.

A Dayton man, Juan T. Harris, 27, was arrested July 10, 2022, in connection to a mail theft involving the same post office, police said.

Five more people, whose names have not been released, were taken into custody Dec. 16, 2022, following a theft at the blue outdoor mail boxes at the East Stroop Road post office branch in Kettering, police said.

Police urge residents to always take outgoing mail inside, but Lutz said it’s important to pay attention to collection times when using the outdoor boxes.

“If customers are using USPS blue collection boxes we encourage them to place their outgoing mail in the blue boxes before the last pickup time of the day,” Lutz said previously, to make sure the mail will be retrieved before the next day.

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.

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The recent accounts of theft and robbery come on the heels of a rash of local mail thefts. Items were stolen last year from at least seven different post office mailboxes in Beavercreek, Dayton, Kettering and the Centerville/Washington Twp. area.

In Kettering and Riverside, nearly $75,000 in stolen checks were cashed by parties they were not issued to, police said. The United States Postal Inspection Service offered a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of suspects accused in recent armed robberies of mail carriers in Dayton and Trotwood.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said in October it was aware of 42 cases where mail was stolen, but could not say how much money was stolen from those checks, as the United States Postal Inspection Service handles investigations.