OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Oakland police are seeing an uptick in robberies of mail carriers. The most recent incident happened last month.

It’s a scary situation for these mail carriers. Oakland police say in several cases, a suspect held a postal worker at gunpoint, demanded the key to their truck, and stole mail.

Oakland police and postal inspectors are actively investigating the robberies, and the crimes are not just happening in Oakland.

“This is an outrageous and unacceptable level of threats to mail carriers just trying to do their job,” said Matthew Norfleet, a postal inspector with the United States Postal Inspection Service.

Norfleet’s office and Bay Area authorities are now investigating seven armed robberies, all targeting postal workers in the months since September, most of them in the East Bay.

“We’re investigating robberies in Vallejo, Berkeley, Oakland, Newark and Fremont,” he said.

Back in November, a USPS mail carrier was robbed at gunpoint in Vallejo. The suspect grabbed the postal worker’s keys before taking off in their mail truck. Other recent robberies followed a similar pattern.

“The target of the robberies seem to be to take the mail keys so that someone else can steal mail later using those mail keys,” Norfleet explained. “We’ve also seen personal properties of carriers taking vehicle keys and mail off the carrier’s person and out of the truck.”

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On Thursday, Oakland police released a public safety advisory about the robberies. According to OPD, the most recent incident happened on Dec. 22. Police say a postal employee was robbed on Wilson Avenue, just north of MacArthur Boulevard after 2:00 p.m. 

In the meantime, there is concern about members of the public also becoming targets. OPD released the following tips to stay safe: 

  • Promptly pick up your mail after delivery, especially if you are receiving a check or merchandise.
  • Get a locking mailbox.
  • Request your income tax return be electronically sent to your bank account.
  • Hand outgoing mail to the carrier or take your mail to a postal box or post office. 

The USPS had strong words for the criminals responsible and a reminder that any crime against a postal worker is punishable under both federal and state law.

“It is a very serious crime and people can expect to go to prison for it,” Norfleet said. 

Last September, an East Bay man was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison for the armed robbery of a mail carrier in Oakland.

“Carriers are dedicated and they’re brave. There’s carriers out there still delivering mail in the same neighborhoods where they’ve been robbed in some cases multiple times so I have nothing but respect for the carriers who are out there doing that job, but they shouldn’t have to face this to do it,” Norfleet said. 

The US Postal Inspection Service is offering up to a $50,000 reward for information on several of these mail carrier truck robberies.