Texas postal workers try to stay safe amid spike in robberies, attacks on carriers

With the holiday season upon us, Central Texas postal workers are gearing up for a busy few weeks. They’re also doing their best to stay safe amid a concerning spike in robberies and attacks on letter carriers. Those attacks have skyrocketed since the pandemic.

"I would say that we are probably approaching or at 100 or more this year," said Shawn Boyd, business agent for Texas and New Mexico with the National Association of Letter Carriers.

"It could be an assault on the letter carrier. It could be at gunpoint. There's been several different incidents," said William Moody, an Austin-based letter carrier and president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Local 181.

Last month, a federal grand jury indicted Jonathan Rangel, of Austin, and Camren Hamilton, of St. Louis, Missouri, for the robbery of two postal carriers in Round Rock on Sept. 30. Court documents say Rangel also assaulted several carriers in Georgetown and Austin.

"We’re really happy to see the federal prosecution on the criminals," said Moody.

But others worry the recent arrests are the exception rather than the rule.

"We’re not prosecuting these crimes as maybe we had in the past, and that's really a failing of the Department of Justice," said Boyd.

The Department of Justice says in these recent cases, both Rangel and Hamilton were trying to obtain the carrier’s master key, which opens mail receptacles.


"You can't really turn your back these days at all because you never know when that's going to happen," said Boyd.

"There have been deaths of letter carriers from these crimes," said Moody.

Locally, the emotional trauma of being held at gunpoint has been overwhelming for some.

"Because of these crimes, I know I have carriers out dealing with mental issues for it, and we're hoping for the best and hoping that they come back," said Moody.

This year, federal law enforcement launched Project Safe Delivery, aimed at preventing these crimes. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is installing 12,000 high-security collection boxes, as well as 49,000 electronic locks to replace traditional keys.

"It sounds like they're trying to fix the problem, but it's not happening quickly enough. We need the problem to stop now," said Moody.

The Postal Service urges all residents to keep an eye out for your postal carrier, especially during the holidays, and call 9-1-1 if you see anything suspicious.

Both the DOJ and the U.S. Postal Service declined FOX 7 Austin's requests for an interview.