Lincoln Park mail thieves caught on camera

Thieves sort through a mailbox in Lincoln Park on July 8, 2024. (Provided)

CHICAGO —  A new surveillance video shows two thieves using master keys to enter a Lincoln Park condo building and steal the residents’ mail. The video was recorded Monday evening in the vestibule of a building at Fullerton and Janssen, according to a CWBChicago reader who lives in the complex.

While most mail thieves try to minimize the time spent inside a building, this duo took their sweet time, sorting and analyzing the value of individual pieces of mail for nearly 90 seconds. One of them even scoped out a couple of packages in the vestibule but apparently judged them not worth taking.

Check it out:

Mail thieves might occasionally score a valuable package or an envelope containing a birthday gift card from someone’s grandma. However, 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 USPS master keys in Chicago. Some keys are stolen from the postal service in less violent ways. 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.

While mail theft is a federal crime, most people accused of stealing mail in Chicago are prosecuted in state court. Federal prosecutors here have been more willing to pursue charges against people accused of robbing postal workers of master keys.

Rewards offered by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service have reached $150,000 for information that leads investigators to robbers. Lesser amounts have been offered for information about mail thieves.

Residents of the Lincoln Park building grappled with that state-federal confusion when they tried to file complaints with the Chicago Police Department.

“CPD said we can’t file a report because it’s not their jurisdiction and we have to contact the post office,” the reader explained. The residents decided to file a report with CPD online anyway. It got rejected because the filing “requires officer assistance to complete,” according to the reader.

It was not clear if the city worker who declined to file a report was a Chicago police officer or a 911/311 dispatcher who works for a different city agency.

Earlier this morning, though, one of the building’s residents finally succeeded in filing a report with CPD.

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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