WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — QUESTION:
Did the Post Office put locks on collection boxes?
Yes, the USPS retrofits some collection boxes with anti-theft locks. The locks are put on after the last collection and removed the next business day. If a box is locked, customers can use the rear slot to mail letters.
The United States Postal Service
First, we can Verify that a spokesperson said the agency retrofitted the front of some collection boxes with locks to prevent mail theft known as "mail fishing."
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, "mail fishing" is a term that describes obtaining items by utilizing common items such as plastic water bottles, duct tape, glue and string. A device covered in a sticky substance such as glue is lowered into the closed box, and mail that adhered to the sticky surface of the device is pulled out and retrieved.
But here’s the really important context left out of all of those viral tweets, most of which center around boxes in Burbank, California.
The USPS spokesperson told the Verify team that the Postal Service started using the locks back in 2016 to prevent mail theft. The locks are put on after the last collection of the day and taken off the next business day.
The Post Office said customers can still use the box by using the opening on the back to drop letters in.
But the Verify Team didn’t just take the Postal Service's word for it.
We double-checked and found out this was a big story back in 2016 in the San Fernando Valley, covered heavily by several major news outlets, backing up the Postal Service's claim that these locks are nothing new.
So while the locks are real, there is no evidence that the locks are meant to interfere in the upcoming election.