USPS: mailboxes can be safely used during day despite robberies

Two local mail carriers who were robbed Thursday said they were told to hand over their keys to blue mailboxes, but the United States Postal Service said the boxes can still be used safely during operating hours.

An investigation into the robberies that occurred in Dayton and Trotwood continued Friday, a U.S. Postal Inspector spokesperson said. No arrests were announced.

The robberies follows a rash of mailbox thefts that occurred earlier this year in Dayton and surrounding communities.

In May, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office told the Dayton Daily News it had received reports of 26 check thefts from outdoor mailboxes since February — many of them involving the Washington Twp. post office on Paragon Road. Dayton Police reported seven thefts.

In Kettering and Riverside, nearly $75,000 in stolen checks were later cashed by parties they were not issued to, police said.

“I had one victim tell me $50,000 has already passed through (their company’s) checking account and not (by) the people they wrote the checks to,” Kettering Detective Vince Mason said.

At that time, police recommended people not use the outside mailboxes and to deliver their mail inside post offices.

The postal inspector spokesperson said mailing items is still one of the safest means of transmitting the information.

“Customers can use collection boxes during operating hours,” said Naddia Dhalai, a spokesperson with the postal service said. “After operating hours, customers can drop off mail inside the Post Office. There are many Post Offices with 24-hour lobby access.”

Thursday’s robberies of postal workers were reported at 12:39 p.m. in the 2900 block of Melbourne Avenue in Dayton and around 12:51 p.m. in the 400 block of Malden Avenue in Trotwood, according to dispatch records.

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“I’m a mailman. He came up there and asked for my key and he had a gun with him,” the mail carrier who was robbed on Malden Avenue said in a 9-1-1 call.

“He took the vehicle keys but he was trying to get the arrow keys that get into our blue boxes,” The other letter carrier told a dispatcher in his 9-1-1 call. “We’ve got a thing going, they’ve been trying to take our arrow keys and steal checks out of people’s mailboxes.”

The letter carrier robbed in Trotwood did have an arrow key that opens blue mailboxes, according to his 911 call, while the letter carrier robbed in Dayton didn’t. The 9-1-1 calls were obtained by the Dayton Daily News through a records request.

Nicole Lutz, a postal inspector, said the letter carriers were not injured in the incidents.

Post office officials declined to discuss details about arrow keys and USPS security systems.

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.

In the Trotwood robbery, the gunman was wearing a light green hoodie. He described the man jumping into a small black Nissan after the robbery, but said it was too far away for him to read the license plate.

“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.”

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Residents visiting the Paul Laurence Dunbar Post Office, about a mile from where the robbery on Melbourne Avenue took place, told a reporter on Friday they were upset about the robbery incidents. Vehicles could be seen pulling up to the mailbox outside the post office as well as people walking inside the post office itself.

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