More people charged with mail related crimes on Tuesday
OAKLAND, Calif. — Following a surge in such cases in the Bay Area, federal officials are now offering a $150,000 reward for information leading to the arrests of people who target mail carriers.
Authorities announced charges of mail theft against two East Bay residents on Tuesday, bringing the total number of Bay Area residents recently charged with crimes involving the postal service or its employees to ten.
At a press conference held Tuesday at the Oakland federal building, U.S. Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey of the Northern District of California announced that the latest people charged are a 19-year-old Antioch resident and a 33-year-old Oakland resident who were discovered with stolen keys to assist them in stealing mail. Four other people were charged with unlawful possession of mail keys, including an American Canyon man, Ramsey said.
According to Ramsey, at least one of the ten suspects in the mail crimes has been charged with attempted murder of a postal employee and using, carrying, and discharging a gun in connection with a violent crime. He also stated that three suspects have been charged with mail carrier robbery, breaking and entering a federal carrier building, and possessing stolen mail and mail theft.
The indictments follow what Ramsey described as “a growing problem” of violence against postal workers.Edward Fletcher, a 22-year mail carrier who represents the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Greater East Bay Branch, agreed.
“I’ve never seen it this bad,” said Fletcher. “I’ve got carriers with post-traumatic stress disorder from having guns stuck in their faces, one who has been out of work for months.”
The $100,000 increase in reward money for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a person who robs or assaults a postal worker, according to U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Rafael Nunez, is a step to demonstrate that the plight of mail carriers has not gone unnoticed.
“I hope this occasion reassures you that all the good people of the country are on your side,” he said, addressing mail carriers specifically. “Every federal agent; every federal prosecutor; every local law enforcement official; every business owner, large and small; every resident who gets mail at home wants you to be able to deliver safely the mail and go home unharmed to your families.”
Nunez’s remarks come just two days before a rally planned by the union representing mail carriers to draw attention to recent assaults and robberies against its members. The “Enough is Enough” rally is set for 5 p.m. Thursday outside Oakland’s downtown post office, 201 13th St.
According to Ramsey, suspects are increasingly attempting to obtain mail keys in order to raid large mail boxes and collect information for crimes such as identity theft and credit card theft.
According to Ramsey, the Antioch suspect is accused of participating in an armed robbery in Antioch and another in San Francisco, as well as stealing mail from blue mailboxes using mail keys. If convicted of possessing the keys, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison and 25 years for the armed robberies.
Ramsey stated that the Oakland resident is accused of having stolen keys on him during two separate incidents in June 2023. Authorities said he used one of them to gain access to a mailbox at a residential complex in San Francisco’s Presidio. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Since February, Fletcher has tracked 31 assaults on mail carriers in the region he represents, which stretches from Fairfield to Livermore to Fremont. He stated that some of the assaults involved guns and that he is “not including all the smash-and-grabs” in which perpetrators smash the windows of mail trucks and steal the contents.
“This is a problem that has increased over the years,” said Ramsey. “We’re talking about mail delivery and people doing their jobs, and there’s clearly concern among letter carriers about their safety.” It’s something we’re focused on and will prioritize.”