Police in Massachusetts are investigating the robbery of a United States Postal Service (USPS) mail carrier by teenagers who were apparently inspired by the social media video-sharing app TikTok.
According to the Melrose Police Department, a USPS worker was robbed by two masked and armed juveniles — both 16 years old — at around 3 p.m. on December 10.
Investigators said the boys were sitting on the steps of a home on Orchard Lane when they saw a USPS worker stop to deliver mail to homes on the street. As she exited her truck, the juveniles accosted her with an airsoft pistol and a knife and demanded the letters she was delivering. After snatching the postal property, the two suspects fled on foot.
Melrose police were later able to identify the suspects after reviewing footage of the incident and interviewing witnesses. The United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) subsequently offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the suspects.
A week after the robbery, Melrose police encountered a suspicious-looking vehicle near a USPS collection box in the area. Upon approaching the vehicle, officers discovered the two boys inside, along with the stolen property. Melrose and Somerville police assisted with the pair’s arrests, and the boys were arraigned in juvenile court.
It was later revealed that the juveniles planned to steal mail containing checks after hearing about it on TikTok as a way to make money.
Departments involved in the investigation included the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, the USPIS, Massachusetts State Police assigned to USPIS, and Melrose Police and Massachusetts State Police assigned to the District Attorney’s Office.
Earlier this year, the USPS announced a surge in postal theft and an increase in crimes targeting postal workers. Experts noted the defunding of the USPS police force as a possible cause of the increase in crimes. The crimes have also led to the USPS having a retention and recruiting problem.
According to neighbors, the USPS worker who was assaulted in this case said she, too, plans to retire in the coming weeks.