Wedgwood master mail key stolen, theft spreads to another Seattle neighborhood

Aug 18, 2023, 8:04 AM | Updated: 8:39 am

mail keys...

A mailbox in Marysville (Photo from Sam Campbell)

(Photo from Sam Campbell)

Another USPS master key was stolen from a mail carrier at gunpoint in Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood Saturday, according to US postal inspectors.

Two people allegedly held up the postal worker in the mid-afternoon, demanding several of their items, including a master key. Master keys can open various numbers of mailboxes and drop boxes along routes, and inspectors could not immediately confirm to KIRO Newsradio how many Wedgwood residents’ mailboxes are now at risk.

More from Sam Campbell: Thousands of Marysville mailboxes jeopardized due to stolen postal service master key

Master keys have also been stolen before, but little information was previously given from the postal services inspection service about how it happened. Postal inspectors haven’t disclosed how thieves in Marysville allegedly got ahold of a master key there.

Marysville police said that the thieves are using them to target collection boxes and group mailboxes that serve multiple homes.

It remains unknown how many homes have been impacted there – or in South Seattle, where federal officials are charging a man with using a stolen master key last May to break into multiple apartment complexes and other boxes.

In Marysville, residents told KIRO Newsradio they received little correspondence from the post office about what happened, but one had noticed one of the “key grabbers” the investigators were reportedly using to capture the stolen master keys, which the city said have been replicated with a 3D printer.

MPD has warned residents in the 98270 and 98271 zip codes their mail could be at risk. It’s not clear which zip codes in Northeast Seattle are now affected.

Mail theft is also hitting Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood, just one block from the KIRO Newsradio studios.

Residents on Franklin Avenue say their townhomes’ mail has been compromised after thieves allegedly pulled up in a grey minivan and forced open their group box.

“It seems like an epidemic,” Mark McCarthy, an Eastlake resident, said. “Somebody is very smart about how they’re doing illegal business. I mean, they did it in the middle of the afternoon, around three or four o’clock.”

They report it happened on August 5, but it’s unclear if a police report was filed and a postal inspector for the Seattle area wasn’t immediately aware of details. McCarty said that since thieves broke into his development’s group box, he hasn’t heard anything from the post office, but he is talking with his carrier.

Nearly two weeks later, the mailbox is still broken, unable to securely store parcels for dozens of residents.

“My understanding is, from talking to [the mail carrier], is that it is going to be a while until this gets fixed because there is only one person that does these repairs to the boxes,” McCarthy said.

KIRO Newsradio asked postal inspectors about the status of their mail and is awaiting details.

Other impacted residents across the region have expressed similar concerns about the ongoing status of their mail. While Columbia City community members were told in May delivery was temporarily suspended to the 98118 zip code while that master key was lost, mail-in Marysville has continued to be delivered but with reportedly few solutions communicated from the post office.

US Postal Inspector John Wiegand told KIRO Newsradio his office is actively investigating these mail thefts, which he said is on the rise, but when asked about what steps the inspection service is taking, he could not comment.

At the time of publication, no arrests have been reported in the Wedgwood, Marysville, or Eastlake incidents.

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Wedgwood master mail key stolen, theft spreads to another Seattle neighborhood