Armed robber stealing master keys from postal carriers on the North and West sides

Mack Julion, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Chicago, said some carriers are considering not going out on their assignments after the string of five attacks since August.

SHARE Armed robber stealing master keys from postal carriers on the North and West sides
Los robos ocurrieron entre las 7:20 y las 8:20 a.m. el jueves, según la policía. | Archivos Sun-Times

Police are warning residents of a string of armed robberies over the last couple of months targeting postal carriers on the South and West sides of the city.

Sun-Times file

An armed robber has been stealing master keys from postal carriers on the North and West sides, according to police.

Mack Julion, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Chicago, told the Sun-Times that some carriers are considering not going out on their assignments.

“In any instance where they don’t feel safe, they certainly have the right not to deliver,” Julion said. “That can impede delivery to homes, residents and business that have these cluster boxes that would require us to use the key.”

There have been at least five attacks since August, according to police.

  • The 4300 block of West Flournoy Street on Aug. 17, about 10:25 a.m.
  • The 1800 block of North Long Avenue on Aug. 17, about 2:30 p.m.
  • The 1400 block of North Latrobe Avenue on Sept. 8, about 3:30 p.m.
  • The 5300 block of West Flournoy Street on Sept. 15, about 12:55 p.m.
  • The 4500 block of West Van Buren Street on Oct. 3, about 2 p.m.

Police describe the suspect as a male, about 6 feet to 6-foot-5, 155 to 180 pounds, wearing a black or green hooded sweatshirt and a black or blue face mask.

Julion told the Sun-Times that mail with credit cards or checks were “more than likely being targeted.”

Master keys are specific to each zone in the city, Julion said. “The keys don’t open every [cluster mailbox] in the city.”

He described stealing master keys as a “high-risk, low-reward venture” because the locks on the mailboxes are replaced about 48 hours after a key is stolen, Julion said.

“Nothing tragic has happened in any of the attacks, but [they] feel like it’s a matter of time before something bad happens,” he said. “It traumatizes the carriers. We’re already short-staffed in Chicago. ... It takes carriers off the streets.”

Several carriers who were robbed have opted to not return to their assignments, including one woman who described to Julion what happened.

“Mack, they put a f—ing gun to my head,” she told Julion as she cried. “I have kids and they’re putting a gun to my head for some damn arrow [master] keys.”

“You almost get emotional thinking about it,” Julion said. “That’s an experience that they’re not over quickly.”

He said he was working with Ald. Derrick Curtis (18th) on any ordinance that would limit the number of cluster mailboxes that are outside.

“It’s a safety hazard not only for our members, but for elderly [people] or people who are disabled to have to come out to their box in public view,” Julion said.

He encouraged residents to continue to report anything suspicious to police.

“If you see anything, please report it right away,” Julion said. “Our members are just trying to do their job.”

Anyone with information can call detectives at 312-746-8253.

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