“Hoping that this fob was indeed stolen, as the alternative is pretty awful to think about.”

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“Dear PoPville,

I wanted to reach out to you about a particularly alarming package theft in our condo building in Adams Morgan. I have written to you before about package thefts, but this is a new low even for our building.

A couple weeks ago on a Wednesday night around 9:30 PM, someone gained access to our condo building in Adams Morgan and proceeded to steal a pretty expensive package. Through our security footage, we were able to check the video, screenshot the intruder, track the fob, and determine how she got access. Turns out, the fob that she used to gain access is the fob we assigned to the USPS mail person who services our building. We are uncertain whether the fob was actually stolen, or given to someone to access the building. This person knew exactly what she was looking for,

walking in, doing a round to check the different areas in the front where we keep packages, grabbing the package available, putting it in her large bag, and walking right back out. Even scarier, there were a handful of residents coming and going in the minutes surrounding this theft. We have reached out to USPS and filed a case with their fraud department and will file a police report. Hoping that this fob was indeed stolen, as the alternative is pretty awful to think about.”

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75 Comment

  • Unfortunately I doubt it was a stolen fob. The fact that the intruder knew exactly which package to look for, and where to look for it, points to the fact that they were familiar with the mail/building. I’m guessing it was a friend/family member of the USPS employee.

    • Boy, these are not smart people we’re doing with huh?

    • The intruder didn’t actually know which package to look for. The pictures don’t show it, but in the video, you could see her attempt to open the right door (has a handle, but is locked in place), and then be surprised as to how heavy our door was (the hydraulic is tight). She wandered around out of frame of the cameras until she wandered back and took the package. It’s not as clear-cut as you may think. Other commenters’ suggestion about checking out the fob usage subsequent to this Weds was a good idea and we’ve asked our prop manager to do that. Thanks for everyone’s feedback.

      • Actually, the fob used by this woman was disabled and a notice was put out to all residents to let the Board know if USPS used the call box today to gain access to the building.

  • Not sure who you reached out to at USPS but you should definitely contact their OIG if you haven’t already. You’ll likely be met with more interest than if you simply call or email a branch manager.

    https://www.uspsoig.gov/

    • +1 yes, please absolutely reach out to the inspector general!

      • Definitely do this – the postal inspectors DO NOT MESS AROUND. They are incredibly effective. (Source: father is a postal service employee)

        • I wish this was still true. I had a check stolen, forged and cashed and it took forever for someone at USPS OIG to get back to me with even a case number. To this day, 2 years later, I’ve never received follow up and Metro PD never followed up either.

    • Also suggest looping in your councilmember’s office for more attention.

  • “This person knew exactly what she was looking for, walking in, doing a round to check the different areas in the front where we keep packages, grabbing the package available, putting it in her large bag, and walking right back out.”
    .
    Sorry OP, but I think you know your answer.

  • well, if you got your USPS mail the next day, would seem like the answer is pretty clear.

  • Should be easy to figure out if it was stolen or loaned out… did the mail person used it on Thursday or report it stolen?

    • the fob was disconnected. we are waiting to see if the USPS tries to buzz into the building or reports it inoperable. then we will pretty much have our answer.

      • I don’t understand. The incident happened weeks ago, but the fob was disabled only yesterday and you’re waiting to see if USPS asks to be buzzed in today? And meanwhile all of this information is now on a widely read blog and could make its way to the USPS carrier in question?

  • The photos don’t look like they are of the same building. Different floor tiles and posts.

  • Interestingly, I live in Adams Morgan too. That either IS the mail carrier in our area, or her sister – she looks so much like her.

    And also interestingly, our front door key has gone “missing” before. Usually it’s reported, but the last time the mail carrier refused to report it to her dispatcher because there was too much “paperwork” and said she would just keep buzzing apartments until someone answered, and if not, no mail. She’s pretty careless – often leaves the box where we stash the extra key open – but we ended up calling it in for her because of the possibility of something like this happening. Now you have me wondering if it’s the same person and part of a larger plot…

    • Thanks for this insight! We’re definitely going to be more vigilant…

      • I live on your block and have had countless packages stolen from inside of our building (although it hasn’t happened in a few months), probably close to $1000 worth of packages over the past 2 years. All stolen packages have been delivered by USPS, the majority of them were from Amazon. I know other people in our building have also had packages stolen. Unfortunately we don’t have fobs for our front door and our Board is stalling on installing security cameras. Based on some other comments this seems to be a larger issue.

    • Uhm… Yeah, if anything is filed with the USPS Inspector General, it should include this information from Ellie if it can be proven that the buildings are on the same route… This whole thing has me WTFing today.

  • Well-you seem to have done all the right things. Are you warning us about this practice? Are you asking us to play detective? Given the time of day, it would suggest that the USPS person was complicit and knew something was there. Has anyone talked to them?

    Our USPS deliveries go into bins with keys that are placed in the recipient’s mailboxes–perhaps you should upgrade, although this will not help with Fedex and UPS who operate on often odd schedules and probably have even more opportunity for theft. Given that so many people buy stuff online (including things they could get at the same price two blocks away when CVS or Safeway has a sale), it will be more difficult to control this in the future.

  • Ugh, this building is on my block – makes me nervous as we have a similar setup with USPS.

    P.S. I like what your building has done with the steps leading up to the entrance!

  • Don’t just leave this up to the USPS itself if you think it’s an inside job. File a case with the USPS Inspector General so the chances of them sweeping it under the rug are diminished. The Postal Inspectors deal with citizens stealing mail, but the IG deals with internal theft and fraud.

    • +1 to Anon @1:04. I would also file a report with MPD.

      • MPD will most likely say they don’t care – stealing USPS mail is a federal crime. You may be able to file for breaking and entering, depending how pushy you are.

        • I bet MPD would downgrade to trespassing.

          • There’s an option on MPD’s online reporting form for stolen property/theft. It’s easy to do, and the intended recipient of the package should fill it out to cover all bases. I know MPD sadly won’t investigate or prioritize catching the thief. However, it’s good to have a police record of the loss of property, especially given that it was expensive and sometimes documentation of theft is required for replacement. Sorry for the confusion on that recommendation!

          • Would this count as theft, though? Not burglary (which can’t be reported via MPD’s online reporting tool)?
            .
            In regular parlance we tend to use “theft,” “robbery,” and “burglary” interchangeably, but my understanding is that in a legal sense, “theft” doesn’t involve any kind of break-in (except for “theft from auto”). It’s stuff like pickpocketing, a purse being stolen at a restaurant, etc.
            .
            I _think_ a package stolen from someone’s porch would count as theft, but I’m not sure whether gaining access to a locked/restricted area like a condo lobby and then stealing something from the lobby would count as theft or as burglary.

          • Even if you fill out an online police report for stolen property, as soon as MPD sees that it was a USPS package, they’ll withdraw the report. MPD can’t/won’t investigate mail fraud – the Postal Inspector will.

      • +1 to filing a report with MPD. Because I had video footage, MPD investigated a package I had stolen in 2015 very seriously. Unfortunately, the thief was never identified (and as I mention in my other comment on this thread, it is possible from the photos here that it was the same woman).

    • Good advice!

    • alissaaa

      What Anon above said about filing with the inspector general–my grandparents had a check stolen out of a birthday card that they put in the blue box at the post office (card never arrived) and check was laundered and cashed the next day in Miami (they put it in the Boca Post Office mailbox). This is exactly what they were told to do as well.

      Internal mail fraud at USPS is not an uncommon thing, and they take mail fraud very seriously when investigating these cases.

      • I had a tax return check stolen which was cashed at a check cashing place by someone who made a fake ID with my name. I notified the USPS and was assigned a postal detective. He was very serious about it scared the crap out of the complicit concierge but couldn’t take it very far. The IRS replaced my tax return check! This happened 20 yrs ago before modern money-moving.

  • I also live on this block. Makes me extremely nervous, as I know UPS, FedEx etc. also have access to our lobby.

  • Yeah if your USPS person came back the next day and used the FOB, I think you know what happened. Sounds like your USPS delivery person needs to be arrested and charged in connection with the theft

  • I would’ve kept this internal and sat up a sting with the USPS, but by now the employee knows and can probably worm their way out

    • This happened a couple of weeks ago. In the intervening weeks, it would certainly become apparent whether the postal carrier had access to the fob after this theft occurred. So the proof of this being an inside job – if it was one – should already have been developed

  • Most likely the USPS delivery person is a contractor, as USPS cannot afford to offer full-time mail carrier jobs with benefits any longer (or does so on a much more limited basis). These contractors make really bad wages, so it doesn’t surprise me that some of those willing to take the job are those who will be less than scrupulous. You get what you pay for, unfortunately.

  • This is super unfortunate, and somewhat scary given something similar that happened in my building in Adams Morgan – we stopped receiving mail for about 3 weeks, and after multiple calls with the Post Office and a good amount of running around, it turned out that the courier had lost the key to the building and nothing was being done about it. Myself and the other tenants worked together to meet with the courier on her route and replace the key, but here’s to hoping the original key was actually lost too….

  • Glad you contacted the USPS Inspection Service – did you fill out their form (for the stolen item) as well? Make sure they know about both the stolen/borrowed fob and the package. They can be pretty good in dealing with these things.

  • Stories like this are why I rent a small box at the UPS Store on 18th Street to receive packages. Less than $350/year (paid in advance) is a small price for piece of mind.

  • Not to detract from this story, but USPS is pathetic. We’ve had packages stolen from our building in Mt. Pleasant and I’m sympathetic to the OP as well as others who have dealt with this. However, the level of unprofessionalism that seems be the case here doesn’t surprise me at all.
    .
    In the last month, I’ve been burned by USPS twice. First was when a time-sensitive Express package arrived 3 hours after the money-back-guarantee deadline and the agent lied to me and juked the tracking information to say was the second delivery attempt (total BS, as I was home and sitting in view and earshot of the door all day). Second was when I received a certified letter notice indicating the letter could be picked up at the 14th and U station, only to learn after waiting in line for 30 minutes that the Georgia Ave. station had been too lazy to order more of their pickup slips and was using the ones printed with 14th and U instead. Their service culture is awful and there seems to be little to no accountability when things go wrong.

    • I have had the same problem. They delivered an overnight guaranteed mail piece of sensitive documents that I was sending to an attorney to the wrong address. Then when I spent over an hour on hold with their toll-free number they told me I had to take it up with the local branch where I mailed it. Manager at local DC branch said that I would not get my money back because “they delivered it on time.” Never mind that they delivered it to a completely incorrect address!! I disputed it with my CC company and got my money back. Now I always pay by credit card and try to use FedEx/UPS whenever I can.

    • Welcome to Washington dc.

  • Best case scenario for the letter carrier is that the fob was stolen. But unless the fob has identifying information on it – as in the address of the building in question – it’s highly unlikely that the person who stole (or found) the fob would know exactly which building it belonged to. And it’s a bit too coincidental that the thief targeted a particularly expensive package once she gained access.
    Postal Inspectors don’t mess around. I would certainly trust them to get to the bottom of this. But MPD should also be involved given that there is video of someone committing a crime.

  • inside job! inside job!

  • I had a package stolen from Adams Morgan in May 2015. Thanks to the video footage, MPD investigated the theft seriously– I was very impressed with the detective who took the case. Unfortunately, the thief was never identified or apprehended. I still have photos from my incident, and looking at them I can’t tell if it is the same woman, but there are enough similarities that is is possible. In the footage from my incident, the thief’s face was clearly visible. She entered the building with a key.

  • USPS never rings the bell at my house and the thefts just follow their trucks and pick up whatever they just left. I am pretty sure they coordinate sometimes otherwise I don’t understand how it is so hard for USPS to RING THE BELL. So I am pretty sure your USPS guy/girl knows this “lady” in the video.

    • I’ve had similar experiences. I can’t get over the lack of ringing the bell. Sometimes I will stay home to just make sure I get a package, only to find it sitting outside on the stoop without the courier ringing the bell to inform me. We raised the issue with the local branch and whoever else who will listen, but they just say things like “Our contract with Amazon does not require us to ring the bell, but we will sometimes do it as a courtesy.” This is an insane approach to me.

      Package delivery (and subsequent theft) is my biggest complaint living in DC. I realize it is small potatoes compared to what others deal with daily.

  • Typically these key fob systems are capable of being set up to alert management when a person comes or goes, so it would be pretty easy to track this persons movements.

  • So has the key fob NOT been used since 9/7, but the mail has still been delivered since that time?

  • You can file a complaint with the OIG, but (speaking from experience) they are incompetent and won’t do anything. They’ll tell you to contact the local branch, who will not answer their phones, or file a complaint online (which you’ll never even receive an email stating it was received). What you want to do is contact your DC Council Rep’s office and they can apply pressure to get you to the regional manager, the one person in all of USPS that will answer her phone (but she won’t call you back).

    • This is exactly what happened with us when we realized someone was stealing/opening mail. They were always personal letters/cards that were either open or never received. The ones that were never received always had money or a check in them. Happened multiple times from multiples destinations so we figured out that it was the local mail system. Same issue though. NO one would help and it was a wild goose chase. This was in Dupont. We’ve since asked people to not send checks.

      • Just posted below about having the USPS open my mail – also live on Q in Dupont… I have anything important sent to me insured or sent to my office now.

        • I live in DuPont too, on Q coincidentally, a four mail person is awesome. No issues ever with USPS. The temple heights post office is great.

        • I live in DuPont too, on Q coincidentally, and our mail person is awesome. No issues ever with USPS. The temple heights post office is great.

  • Tom

    Borrowing from @darth here:

    Roses are red
    Corn on the cob
    Your package theft likely
    Was an inside job

  • 1. This looks like my old building in Adams Morgan (1754 Lanier) – if so, I constantly had packages stolen while living there.

    2. I live in Dupont now, but recently had an issue where the USPS opened my package and stole part of the contents. My mail carrier personally told me that she had tried to deliver it but it had been damaged so she didn’t want to leave it. She took it back to the main station and when she went to re-deliver, she told me it was taped back up and she wasn’t sure if the contents were inside. She asked me to open it in front of her, and sure enough some items were missing. She told me to file a claim but that “they’re aware that something is going on.” Very suspicious. Makes me not trust USPS AT ALL now.

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