Bill Introduced to Protect Mail Carriers From Rising Crime

Legislation has been introduced in an attempt to protect USPS mail carriers from being targeted by criminals.

A growing number of robberies targeting mail carriers delivering mail in cities throughout the country has led to the introduction of legislation intended to help combat the problem.

The Protect Our Letter Carriers Act (S. 4356) is sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) is the only co-sponsor as of the time of this writing.

The legislation would do the following:

  • Authorize $7 billion over 5 years to install high security collection boxes and to replace older versions of the universal mailbox key with an electronic version
  • Establish the premise that the Attorney General should vigorously prosecute any case of assault against a postal employee
  • Direct the Attorney General to appoint an assistant U.S. attorney in each judiciary district to supervise the investigation and prosecution of alleged postal crime
  • Require the U.S. Sentencing Commission to amend guidelines so that the assault or robbery of a postal worker is treated in the same manner as assaulting a law enforcement officer

Companion legislation was introduced in the House (H.R. 7629) by Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).

His bill would do the following:

  • Address the outdated collection boxes and arrow keys, for which letter carriers are often targeted in robberies by requiring that the collection boxes be replaced with high security collection boxes and the arrow keys be replaced with electronic versions
  • Ensure that the Department of Justice appropriately prosecutes crimes committed against letter carriers through designating an assistant in every U.S. Attorney’s office to coordinate and supervise the investigation and prosecution of alleged offenses committed against letter carriers
  • Amend sentencing guidelines so that any assault or robbery committed against a letter carrier has a more severe sentence recommendation

Criminals Increasingly Targeting Postal Employees

Mail carriers are frequently being robbed while delivering mail along their routes. The thieves often are after the master keys the postal employees carry which open all of the mailboxes in a block such as what is found in apartment complexes.

These are just a few examples of recent crimes:

Why Are Criminals Stealing Mail Carriers’ Keys?

Mail carriers are unarmed which makes them easier targets. They carry special universal keys called “arrow keys” that allow them to open many different kinds of mailboxes including collection boxes, outdoor parcel lockers, cluster box units, and apartment panels.

Thieves who get their hands on these keys suddenly have access to a lot of mail which often contains checks, prescription drugs or other valuable items sent through the mail that is easy to convert into cash.

Project Safe Delivery

In May 2023, the Postal Service and the Postal Inspection Service launched an initiative called Project Safe Delivery to help protect USPS employees from crime and prevent mail and package theft.

Among the crime prevention initiatives of the Project Safe Delivery program include hardening blue collection boxes to make it more difficult for criminals access to their contents and installing electronic locks to replace the older arrow locks. The Postal Service said it would replace 49,000 antiquated arrow locks with electronic locks to make the arrow keys used by the mail carriers less valuable for criminals.

According to the Associated Press, the Project Safe Delivery initiatives led to hundreds of arrests and a decrease in the number of robberies toward the end of last year. However, there was still an overall increase in the number of crimes against mail carriers during 2023. In total, 643 mail carriers were robbed in 2023, an increase of 30% over the previous year.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.