It’s the holiday season, which means delivery drivers will be hustling Christmas gifts with dangerous Grinches lurking.
Recent robberies and carjackings of delivery drivers have put a spotlight on the threats they face as they handle the rush of shipments and presents. Drivers for Amazon, FedEx and UPS have all been targeted over the past month.
The U.S. Postal Service is also vulnerable, with assaults on postal workers up 231% over the last three years, according to the Postal Police Officers Association.
Per Postal Service data, 412 mail carriers were robbed in 2020. In just the first half of this year, 305 employee robberies have been reported. Armed robberies of letter carriers increased sharply between 2018 and 2021, rising from 36 to 154 reported incidents, according to the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).
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A female UPS driver can be seen dialing 911 as thieves get away with her brown truck in Maryland in November. (Fox 5)
Mail carriers and delivery drivers in Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, Phoenix, San Francisco and other cities over the past two months demanded safer conditions for delivery workers on their routes at “Enough is Enough” rallies via the National Association of Letter Carriers.
Recently, U.S. Postal Inspection Service National Public Information Officer Michael Martel told Fox News Digital that thieves have been after postal workers’ “arrow keys” — which can be used to open most postal boxes — after instructions on how to use and spot them proliferated online.
Using those keys, he said, thieves can obtain financial documents like Social Security checks to commit fraud, along with prescriptions and other valuable items. The keys can reportedly command thousands of dollars on the black market.
An Amazon delivery driver was robbed at gunpoint by two convicted felons in Florida on Jan. 13. (Orange County Sheriff’s Office)
In May of this year, Martel said, USPIS expanded its “Project Safe Delivery” program in light of increased robberies and mail thefts.
As part of the initiative, the agency installed over 10,000 mail collection boxes upgraded with additional security features, Martel said, and 6,500 additional electronic locks.
Also since May, USPIS and law enforcement agencies around the country have carried out 109 arrests for robberies and more than 530 arrests for mail theft.
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The U.S. Postal Inspection Service reports that armed robberies of letter carriers increased sharply between 2018 and 2021, rising from 36 incidents to 154 incidents. (Getty Images)
“There is certainly increased opportunity for mail theft to occur around the holiday season,” Martel said Thursday. “The Postal Service and project safe delivery will continue through the holidays to keep American mail and our employees safe.”
On Tuesday, the agency arrested 20-year-old Devan Flax in connection to two armed robberies of USPS carriers in Chicago, the agency wrote in a press release.
The man had robbed one letter carrier at gunpoint on Saturday, the agency said, then another on Tuesday.
Upon his arrest, two stolen postal keys and the firearm used in the robberies were confiscated. Flax was charged with two counts of armed robbery, one count of aggravated robbery and three counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.
Martel said thieves also break into carriers’ trucks and curbside boxes for packages en route.
Most recently, an Amazon driver in New Haven, Connecticut, was held up by four carjackers — one armed — as he unloaded packages from his truck early Wednesday.
The armed man pointed his weapon at the driver and demanded he get inside the truck. The men gathered the packages in the vehicle, then fled the scene. The New Haven Police Department said the driver was shaken but unharmed.
Two days earlier in Colorado, a FedEx driver was shot by a carjacker, the Denver Police Department told Fox News Digital.
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An Amazon driver’s van was stolen at gunpoint in Connecticut this week, then found abandoned. (New Haven Police Department)
Officers responded to the scene around 4:30 p.m. Monday and took the victim from the North Vine Street crime scene to a hospital where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries. His stolen truck was found later on Garfield Street, police said.
“The case remains under investigation, including if anything was stolen from the vehicle,” a department public information officer wrote in a Thursday email. “No arrests have been made.”
On Thanksgiving in Chicago, two gunmen robbed another FedEx driver in the Bucktown neighborhood around 10:43 a.m.
The two delivery drivers — a 32-year-old man and his 50-year-old partner — were reportedly ordered to get on the ground on North Honore Street. The two thieves then transferred the packages in the truck to their own silver Infiniti SUV.
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Members of the National Association of Letter Carriers in Detroit are seen at their “Enough is Enough” rally on Nov. 6 demanding safer conditions for delivery workers. (Fox 2 Detroit)
In an incident the day before, about six masked gunmen arrived in a black Jeep and hit a man in the back of the head with a weapon on Chicago’s West Carroll Avenue, then fled the scene with the victim’s silver Infiniti SUV, police said. The department is reportedly investigating whether the two incidents are related, CWB Chicago reported.
In response to the incidents, a spokesperson for FedEx told Fox News Digital that “the safety of [its] team members and the security of [its] customers’ shipments” were their top priorities.
“We have rigorous safety and security programs in place intended to ensure team members are safe and customer property is protected,” the company representative wrote in a Wednesday email.
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Earlier this month, doorbell camera footage in Maryland captured the armed daytime carjacking of a female UPS driver.
The Glenarden attack on Elk Avenue took place around 2 p.m. on Nov. 10, per the Prince George’s County Police Department.
In the footage, the driver can be heard yelling that her brown truck was taken at gunpoint after she is swarmed by several suspects. She can then be seen calling police on her cellphone.
“They just pulled a gun out on me,” the UPS driver could be heard telling dispatchers in the Ring doorbell footage obtained by FOX 5.
The neighbor whose camera captured the video said he initially thought a couple was fighting outside his house.
Per U.S. Postal Services data, 412 mail carriers were robbed in 2020. Just in the first half of this year, 305 employee robberies have been reported. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
“It’s very brazen, in the middle of the day,” the man told FOX 5. “Most of the homes have cameras, so to do that right in front of everybody’s house who has front view cameras, it’s a little unnerving.”
“You hope things get a little better,” the neighbor continued. “Maybe it’s the climate, but it’s unfortunate — you have to be vigilant and watch your back.”
On Tuesday, Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced the Postal Police Reform Act with bipartisan support in response to the apparent uptick.
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Currently, Postal Police Officers can only work on USPS property; the proposed legislation would allow them to operate and carry out arrests offsite.
“Our nation has seen an unacceptable increase in postal crime, and due to current restrictions, Postal Police Officers are unable to carry out important public safety duties,” Collins wrote in a press release. “By allowing Postal Police Officers to work beyond Postal Service property, this bipartisan legislation recognizes the urgent need to protect our mail carriers and better secure our entire postal system.”