Video: Chicago postal worker robbed while walking his route on Thursday afternoon

Two men rob a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier in the 1500 block of North Long on August 10, 2023. | Provided

CHICAGO — A home surveillance camera was rolling when a U.S. Postal Service worker got robbed while delivering mail in Chicago on Thursday afternoon.

The holdup occurred just a few hours before the U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced a new $100,000 reward for information that leads them to a robbery crew that shot a mail carrier during a robbery on August 1.

Video footage shared with CWBChicago shows a postal worker being ambushed in the Austin neighborhood as he delivered mail in the 1500 block of North Long around 1:15 p.m.

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. Watch:

Chicago police are working to determine if the same carload of robbers is responsible for committing at least two more robberies immediately after the postal worker was targeted: in the 7000 block of West Bloomingdale and the 1800 block of North Natchez.

Victims at both locations said two or three masked men emerged from a white SUV with guns to rob them between 1:20 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. A CPD report said the robbers pistol-whipped the second victim on Natchez.

On Thursday evening, postal inspectors released two images of a man who may have participated in the robberies of two postal workers 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.
Postal inspectors are trying to identify this man 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.

Officials previously offered a $50,000 reward for information that led them to the offenders. On Thursday, they doubled the offer to $100,000.

Growing problem

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.

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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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is