Thieves targeting Bay Area mail carriers to steal keys, police say

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) — Thieves are targeting letter carriers for their mailbox keys.

Palo Alto police and the U.S. Postal Service are investigating a strong-arm robbery that happened at an apartment complex off Middlefield Road on Thursday.

Police said the carrier was approached by two men, who demanded his postal keys.

When they then asked for his wallet and cellphone, a fight ensued and then the suspects fled toward the parking garage.

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U.S. Postal Inspector Matthew Norfleet said this is not the most recent incident. Over the weekend, two arrests were made after mail carriers were robbed in Belmont and Palo Alto.

“These incidents turn really needlessly violent. This is not something carriers should be worried about. Their job is already physically and mentally demanding,” Norfleet said.

And it’s not happening in one particular part of the Bay Area.

“And in these cases, we’re seeing the robbers are also traveling across the bay area using cars that were stolen in the Sacramento area to come to the Bay Area and do robberies,” Norfleet said

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According to analysis by the ABC7 data journalism team, in 2023 there were 145 postal robberies in California. Approximately 61% occurred in the Bay Area.

“The people who steal mail are criminals. They are dangerous. When we catch up with them, they are often armed,” Norfleet said.

Back at the apartment complex in Palo Alto, residents had no idea a mail carrier had been robbed on Thursday.

We spoke with Igal Yaari who lives in the neighborhood. He would describe the area as boring and safe.

A small business owner is now worried she’ll be forced to leave San Francisco if she is targeted again after her shop in Cow Hollow was broken into.

“I’m very surprised. I would say I never hear about in all my time to time here in Palo Alto. I never hear about this type of thing,” Yaari said.

In light of these robberies, police are asking to keep a watchful eye out for carriers and their postal service vehicles.

“We usually do see the cars the robbers are using follow the carriers for a ways before they get ready to do the robbery, looking for that opportunity,” Norfleet said.

Postal Inspectors are asking people to report any financial crimes connected to mail, because it could lead to the suspects.

The Postal Inspection Service offers a significant reward of up to $150,000 dollars for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.