Another mail carrier robbed at gunpoint as officials release more pictures of suspects

CHICAGO — Another postal worker was robbed at gunpoint on Friday afternoon, this time in West Town, as authorities released more images of suspects wanted for the recent shooting of a mail carrier in Chicago.

Yesterday’s robbery occurred in the 1900 block of West Thomas around 2:30 p.m.

The mail carrier was working her route when two masked men robbed her at gunpoint of her postal service master key, also known as an “arrow key,” according to a Chicago police report.

Both robbers fled east on Thomas after the robbery. The report said they were both Black males between 15 and 19 years old wearing black ski masks, black hoodies, and dark clothing.

On Thursday, a home surveillance camera recorded the robbery of another mail carrier in the 1500 block of North Long on the West Side. A white and black SUV pulled next to the curb and waited for the mail carrier to get closer. As the postal worker stepped into camera view, two masked robbers emerged from the SUV’s passenger seats to rob him of his wallet and keys.

Mail theft by crews using stolen postal service master keys has become so widespread that the U.S. Postal Service has advised people not to put mail into its blue mailboxes after the last collection time.

Also on Friday, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service issued another bulletin as they try to track down armed robbers who targeted two mail carriers, shooting one, on August 1:

  • At about 3:32 p.m., two armed men tried to rob a 52-year-old mail carrier in the 3200 block of North Kildare. Officials said one of the robbers fired a round, striking the postal worker in the leg.
  • About 15 minutes after shooting the mail carrier, the crew targeted another postal worker in the 1800 block of North Sawyer.

It was the second day in a row that the service released new images of suspects in those crimes. Officials previously offered a $50,000 reward for information that led them to the offenders. On Thursday, they doubled the offer to $100,000.

Postal inspectors are trying to identify these suspects as they investigate the shooting and robbery of a mail carrier in Chicago. | USPIS

Anyone with information about him can contact postal inspectors at 1-877-876-2455. Refer to case #4088796.

Why are postal workers being robbed?

Mail thieves might occasionally score a valuable package or an envelope containing a birthday gift card from someone’s grandma. But experts say the real value comes from identity theft and check fraud mills, which use information from stolen mail to steal people’s identities and checks.

Armed men have frequently robbed mail carriers of their “arrow keys” in Chicago. Some keys are stolen from the postal service in less violent ways. Some counterfeit keys have also popped up.

Highly organized identity theft and fraud organizations use stolen postal service master keys, called “arrow keys,” to steal large volumes of mail from public mailboxes and residential building mailrooms.

In May, a joint operation involving postal inspectors and Chicago police netted an arrest after investigators allegedly saw a man use an arrow key to steal mail from one of the postal service’s ubiquitous blue mailboxes in the West Loop.

And in March, another man was charged with possessing two forged postal service master keys, also known as “arrow keys,” during a traffic stop on the North Side. Prosecutors said the man also had a trove of financial information, including W2 forms and checks.

Prosecutors charged another man in February with burglarizing the mailroom of a single Lakeview apartment building 14 times in nine weeks. Patrick Slagel allegedly admitted to being a “jogger,” the slang term for people who collect bulk mail in theft scams, and to using postal service master keys that were either provided by relatives of USPS employees or were bought or stolen.

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