A Master Key to Mail Theft: USPS Inefficiency and Inaction Raise Concerns

Multiplex mailboxes are a vulnerability for neighborhoods

“Door-to-door mail delivery is about as American as apple pie,” NBC Bay Area reported back in 2013. “With the Postal Service facing billions of dollars in annual losses, that tradition could be virtually phased out by 2022 under a proposal in Congress.”

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee “approved a plan to move to cluster box and curbside delivery, which includes mailboxes at the end of driveways.” But that sentiment doesn’t include the boxes at the end of every driveway. 

multiplex mail box

(Multiplex Mailbox PC: K. Lloyd Billingsley)

In recent years the Postal Service has installed multiplex units with 16 boxes for letters, two larger boxes for packages, and a compartment for outgoing mail. Though designed to improve convenience for carriers and neighborhood residents, these boxes also serve as a one-stop robbery center. 

Mail theft is a federal crime, but that has not proved a deterrent. In Sacramento and surrounding communities, thieves have sawed off the box at the base and carted it away. More often, residents find the entire package in place but wide open. As it turns out, somebody has a master key and can open many boxes at will, usually in the middle of the night. This has gone on for several years.

To avoid theft, residents must pick up the mail upon delivery, which is not always possible for those with day jobs. The thefts also force residents to mail letters in other drop boxes or at the local post office, an obvious inconvenience. 

As a simple fix, residents have urged USPS to re-key the boxes. That has not been done, and the inaction suggests the need for a better fix. USPS ineptitude and inefficiency are now American traditions. See here and here and here for details. 

The time is long past to remove the USPS monopoly on first-class mail. Independent companies will provide better mail service, as they already do with parcels. For secure and reliable service, independent service is the way ahead. 

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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