LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Four Arkansans were arrested last week on federal charges involving mail theft— and this week, the investigation will continue.
Federal investigators have looked into the 4 indictments for mail theft and stolen mail keys in Little Rock and could tell us more updates on arrests soon.
As thousands and thousands of letters are sent through the U.S. Postal Service every day, Arkansans are also being impacted by mail theft.
Ella Lockhart co-owns a business in Little Rock and said that she mailed out checks for rent and business appliance rentals weeks in advance, but her letters never made it.
"I started getting calls from all my creditors, that they hadn't received my payments for June... When I went to the bank, and the bank teller went back to check it, she come back and said they got you, Miss Lockhart. It's been cashed," Lockhart explained.
About $5,000 was cashed from Lockhart's account, and not by the right people.
"They had whited out miss out appliances and put their name on it, took a photo of it with their telephone and emailed it to the bank," Lockhart said.
However, she is not alone— mail thefts have been happening all across the country.
According to the Inspector General's office, from March 2020 through February 2021, the Postal Inspection Service have received over 161% more complaints of mail theft, compared to the year before.
But there are authorities trying to stop these thefts, like the Postal Police.
President of the Postal Police Officers Association Frank Albergo said to, "think of Postal Inspectors as detectives and think as postal places uniform cops."
He explained that in 2020, their authority was cut back drastically, limiting staff and jurisdiction.
"We'll travel from one post office to the next, but in between those post offices, we can do nothing. So if we actually see a letter carrier being attacked, a postal police officer has to drive away," Albergo said.
Even still, Postal Inspectors said that they look into every complaint that comes their way.
Robert Deshields, a Postal Inspector for Arkansas explained the process, "We begin investigating it, whether that is we're reaching out to contact our federal and local partners to kind of ensure that we're looking in the right direction."
There are steps the USPS advised people to take to help keep their mail safe, such as only dropping off mail close to collection times, picking up your mail right away, and never mailing out cash.
"Mail theft is a crime of opportunity, right? We just want to limit opportunity and time for somebody to try to, you know, apprehend mail," Deshields added.
All while 2 months later, Ella Lockhart is still working to get her money back.
"It made our creditors look at us like we are thieves...and that's what really hurt us... they made us feel like we did something wrong," Lockhart added.