Queens lawmaker calls on USPS to address mail theft and improve security of green mailboxes

Queens green relay boxes
USPS relay box (Photo via Twitter/Grace Meng)

Congresswoman Grace Meng is calling on the United States Postal Service (USPS) to immediately address mail theft from postal relay boxes in Queens, which are the dark green boxes next to many of the blue collection boxes.

Meng sent a letter to USPS District Manager, Frank Calabrese, who oversees postal operations in Queens and Long Island, after receiving complaints from constituents in her district who have been impacted by a surge of mail theft.

The relay boxes, unlike the standard blue mailboxes, do not feature a slot and require a key to open, according to Meng. These boxes can store thousands of letters at a time and are vulnerable to break-ins.

“Issues regarding mail security have been an ongoing and persistent problem in Queens over the past few years, and mail theft from relay boxes is the latest issue,”  Meng said. “Mail is one of the oldest and most trusted forms of communication across our nation, and that trust is eroded when constituents are not getting or are unable to safely send their mail. We must do more to protect our residents from identity theft, having important documents stolen, or having money removed from bank accounts. I know the improvements needed to make these relay boxes secure are in the Postal Service’s abilities. Now, all that is left to do is to implement the required security.”

In her letter to Calabrese, Meng said she is encouraged by the USPS’s recent coordination with the NYPD to arrest six individuals charged with mail theft and fraud in Queens.

“I hope that partnerships with law enforcement and other relevant agencies continue, as they are vital in keeping our communities safe. I also urge the USPS to consider further initiatives to improve the security of relay boxes to decrease their vulnerability to theft,” Meng wrote in the letter. “I have full faith in the USPS’ ability to make necessary security upgrades as they did with the blue mailboxes in my district — an effective initiative that I encouraged.”

Several years ago, the USPS retrofitted blue collection boxes in Queens with mail slots after Meng urged the agency to do so.

The congresswoman made the request in 2018 to combat the problem of mail fishing in the borough, which is when criminals place string connected to a sticky material into collection the boxes, and “fish” out the envelopes. The narrower slots make it more difficult for thieves to steal the mail that is inside.