Chicago — Robberies of U.S. Postal Service mail carriers continue to be a problem in Chicago, with at least two more cases reported since Thursday. And, like countless postal workers before them, the victims were targeted not for their money or phones but for their work keys.
The latest holdup occurred in West Rogers Park around 2:39 p.m. Monday. Chicago police said a mail carrier had just walked out of a building in the 6400 block of North Hoyne when a masked gunman confronted him at the mouth of an alley.
The robber pointed a gun at the mail carrier, demanded his postal service master keys, and then fled in a white Toyota Camry, a CPD spokesperson said.
Last Thursday, another postal worker was robbed in the 100 block of South Seeley around 11:36 a.m. Once again, the offender took the USPS master keys, then escaped in a car, described as a gold Lexus.
Both mail carriers were targeted for their “arrow key,” a US Postal Service universal master key that opens collection boxes, parcel lockers, mailbox panels, and apartment building mailroom boxes.
“Checks, credit cards, PPP loans, and identity theft are the new hustle in urban America,” a law enforcement source told CWB Chicago earlier this year.
The source said that mail thieves are “part of a larger operation that uses stolen mail to open checking accounts and launder stolen checks,” among other crimes. Stolen mail fuels a massive national identity theft operation, the source said.
Recent incidents across the city provide a glimpse of the scale and complexity of the fraud operation:
- Last month, Chicago police and postal inspectors found checks, money orders, stacks of mail, computers, piles of fake identification cards, stolen ID cards, DNA tests, and key-cutting equipment inside a hotel room in the Loop, a CPD report said.
- Two weeks ago, CPD officers allegedly found two forged Postal Service master keys and a trove of W2 forms, checks, and other financial information during a traffic stop in Albany Park. The car’s driver is charged with felonies.
- A man who allegedly worked as a “jogger,” the slang term for people who collect bulk mail in theft scams, was charged last month with burglarizing the mailboxes of a Lakeview high-rise 14 times in nine weeks.