Mail theft in Seattle has become such a bad problem that the United States Postal Service paused deliveries to the 98118 zip code.
Around 900 customers in the area from Columbia City to Rainier Beach were told to pick up their mail from the local post office, prompting massive lines.
A thief had stolen a USPS master key that allowed them to open all collection boxes, parcel lockers, and cluster box units.
A notice on a mailbox stated, “Due to the rise in mail theft and vandalism we will be holding all mail for your address. We do not have an exact date of when all master locks will be replaced,” according to a report from King 5.
Residents claimed that many of them were not alerted by the postal service and found out about the pause from neighborhood groups on Facebook.
Mail service has now resumed as normal, for now.
“Mail delivery to less than 900 residents in parts of south Seattle was affected last week because of equipment security concerns. Improvements to the affected equipment were made, and all mail was delivered to the impacted residents,” a USPS spokesman said, according to a report from the Daily Mail. “We appreciate the patience and understanding of the community as we work to preserve the safety and sanctity of the mail.”
Since the beginning of 2023, there have been 2,564 burglary cases and 7,110 larceny thefts in Seattle.
The Daily Mail report notes that “Seattle’s violent crime rate is at a 15-year high, based on its annual crime statistics from 2022, with 5,642 cases reported- including 52 murders, 321 rapes, 1,759 robberies and 3,510 aggravated assaults.”
“Robberies of postal carriers across the country has quadrupled over the last decade, according to data provided by the Postal Inspection Service to the Associated Press earlier this month,” the report added. “Robberies of the workers often include stealing their master keys, also known as arrow keys, but the Postal Service declined to tell the AP how many such keys are currently in use.”