Pols to USPS: Put back the blue mailboxes

Elected officials are calling for the United States Postal Service to replace mailboxes that the organization removed earlier this year without prior notification.

As part of a security effort to stop thieves from stealing mail from mailboxes, known as fishing, USPS began removing its blue mailboxes from various Bronx locations to customize them against tampering.

The old mailboxes are being modified with a small slot through which mail can be placed instead of the small, hinged door.

According to USPS, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service has made 150 arrests in the Bronx since January in connection to fishing.

Donna Harris, a spokesperson U.S. Postal Inspection Service Office, told the Bronx Times in November that the postal service would not release information on when the mailboxes would be returned to their locations.

Six weeks later elected officials are still wondering when the mailboxes are being returned.

USPS suggested flippantly that residents without boxes can hand their mail to their local mail carriers or go to the nearest USPS stations.

According to another USPS spokesperson the agency removed 124 boxes in the Bronx but replaced 65 mailboxes – outfitted with the new security measure – the same day they were removed.

In a letter to Bronx Postmaster Lilliam Rodriguez, elected officials said on Thursday, December 8, the missing mailboxes have become an inconvenience to many residents.

Their statement also calls the postal service’s decision to take away the mailboxes without prior notice “an egregious move.”

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said his office has received many complaints from residents concerning the non-existent mailboxes.

Councilman Andrew Cohen acknowledged the postal service’s security concerns but was worried about the lack of transparency from USPS.

“While USPS has a new mailbox design that prevents theft, my biggest concern is that they knew that a year-end rush would be coming, but they largely kept the community in the dark about how removal and reinstallation would affect residents’ ability to mail important holiday packages,” said Cohen.

Cohen also said dropping packages off at a local post office might not be an easy alternative for all residents.

“Seniors and individuals with disabilities, in particular, find it difficult to get to a post office,” Cohen said.

Both Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and Congressman Eliot Engel are demanding the USPS rectify the situation as soon as possible.

“The USPS should immediately replace these mailboxes and provide an alternative to residents during their absence,” said Senator Klein.

Engel suggested a solution: “Postal officials need to rectify this problem immediately by establishing mobile collection stations throughout the borough.”

USPS released a statement in connection to resident’s concerns.

““Our goal is to protect the US Mail from criminals who seek to violate the safety and security that our customers expect. This will be an ongoing program until we have completed collection box enhancements throughout the Bronx.”

Reach Reporter Robert Christie at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at rchri[email protected]cnglocal.com.