After receiving over the past few days numerous complaints of missing or stolen mail, The Times-Independent asked the United States Postal Service and its Office of the Inspector General to respond to locals’ allegations of mail theft in Moab.
Jeffrey Krafels, a representative from the western area field office of the USPS Office of the Inspector General, responded to The T-I’s request for comment.
As part of its standard procedure, the USPS OIG “does not confirm or refute information related to possible ongoing USPS OIG investigations, except in matters where details of the investigation become a matter of public record,” according to Krafels.
He did share information about the USPS OIG, all of which is available online.
In his statement to The T-I, Krafels said the most important point for people to know is that they can contact the USPS OIG directly about allegations of mail theft or misconduct via its hotline at www.uspsoig.gov/form/file-online-complaint.
“Please contact the USPS OIG Hotline with any complaints of alleged mail theft or misconduct at the Moab Post Office. These complaints are then tracked and forwarded to our field office. Another important step the public can do is sign up for Informed Delivery, which is provided by the USPS.”
Included in the list of items accepted through the hotline are matters related to “theft of items from the mail by postal employees or contractors.” Further information about the hotline is available at www.uspsoig.gov/hotline.
“Serious allegations and significant trends, such as receiving allegations or complaints from a Post Office, processing facility, or region of the country, may be referred to the executive level,” Krafels said.
Complaints filed through the USPS OIG hotline do not necessarily get a response. The OIG automatically contacts complainants after it receives a complaint, but after that, complainants do not receive updates unless the OIG requests additional information to aid investigation.
People who want information about a complaint can later file a request with the OIG’s Freedom of Information Act headquarters. The OIG asks that such requests be made 60 days after the initial complaint is filed. Such requests can be made at www.uspsoig.gov/form/foia-and-certification-identity-form.
It is difficult to put an exact number on the amount of mail that fails to get delivered, but in 2014, the USPS Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta received 88 million items. That is roughly one mail piece for every 1,800 handled that year.
Mail pieces end up at the MRC when the postal service is not able to deliver or return an item, typically because the addresses are not included or are invalid.
Items that end up in the lost and found are assessed, and if their value is determined to be at least $25, MRC staff will scan and open packages in search of address information that can lead to the delivery of the piece.
The MRC retains items worth over $25 for 30, 60, 90, or 180 days, depending on the mail class or services used (such as package insurance). After that, items are auctioned off online.
People hoping to recover mail from the USPS’ official lost and found can file a claim at www.usps.com/help/claims.htm.
More information about the MRC is available at www.uspsoig.gov/blog/lost-and-found.