OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — A series of attacks against United States postal workers in Oakland prompted the local postmaster to send out a letter to warn community members in early March. On Monday, the U.S. Postal Service also held a press conference to address the incidents.

In the letter, dated March 3, Oakland Postmaster Sunil Chanan says, “We are asking for your help and vigilance,” after a “disturbing” rise in criminal acts against postal workers, vehicles and mailboxes. A reward of up to $50,000 is available for anyone who can offer information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person who assaults or robs a U.S. Postal Employee.

In January, the Oakland Police Department warned the community about an uptick in postal worker attacks. Police said that in several of the robberies, postal workers were even held at gunpoint as suspects demanded keys to their truck and stole mail.

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Oakland police say in several cases, a suspect held a postal worker at gunpoint and demanded the keys to their truck before stealing mail. Chanan asks community members to be on the lookout for the following signs:

  • Unusual activity around carriers: thieves sometimes follow mail carriers, looking for chances to steal mail from their vehicles or person. If you see someone following a mail carrier, please call 911 immediately.
  • Unusual activity around mail boxes: customers should look out for any strange or suspicious behavior around their mailboxes including people lingering in the area or tampering with the boxes.
  • Damaged mailboxes: mailboxes are a key target for burglars looking to steal valuable items. Look out for scratches, dents or broken locks on your mailbox. If you notice any signs of tampering, please contact your local post office.
  • Missing mail: Mail theft is a way criminals gain access to confidential information. Customers should watch out for missing mail items, especially if they were scheduled to arrive around the same time as a burglary occurred. If you are missing mail, contact the local post office immediately.

Residents who see something suspicious can also contact the Postal Inspectors at 877-876-2455. For more information, please visit USPIS.gov.

“Thank you for helping our carriers stay safe,” Chanan said.

The trend of postal worker attacks has not stopped in Oakland. In February, a postal worker in Vallejo was robbed of their keys and several mail items in the same week that another postal worker was robbed in Oakland. As Middle Class Tax Refund checks went out in droves, OPD warned the community about the increased threat of mail theft.