weather icon Clear

‘These crimes need to stop’: Las Vegas letter carriers rally to denounce robberies

Updated April 18, 2024 - 7:27 pm

About 60 members of a national union representing letter carriers rallied Wednesday evening in downtown Las Vegas to demand an end to assaults and robberies happening during delivery routes.

Members of the National Association of Letter Carriers, wearing blue union T-shirts and chanting “Enough is enough — protect our letter carriers,” gathered with signs outside the Lloyd D. George Courthouse, 333 Las Vegas Blvd. South, to decry the rising number of attacks against carriers.

Brian Renfroe, president of the 280,000-member union, using a bullhorn to address the crowd, said that about 2,000 crimes against carriers have occurred nationally since 2020.

‘Targeted for harm’

“Nearly every single day, we hear about another letter carrier that is a victim of a violent crime, targeted armed robberies, violence, assault, shooting, and yes, even murder…,” Renfroe said.

“I’m furious that our members, the very people that walk the streets and serve as the eyes and ears of communities, are the people being targeted for harm.”

The union’s members are left to defend themselves “because the (U.S.) Postal Inspection Service is not doing its job and the Department of Justice is not doing its job,” he said.

Robberies of letter carriers in the U.S. rose to 643 in 2023, a nearly 30 percent increase from the previous year and the number of carriers injured in the robberies doubled, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

Proposed law could help

Renfroe spoke of his support for a bill in Congress, the “Protect Our Letter Carriers Act of 2024,” that, if passed, would send $7 billion in funding to the postal service to install high-security collection boxes and replace the carriers’ universal arrow master keys used to access mail collection and delivery boxes with more secure electronic versions.

The proposed law would require the U.S. attorney general to appoint individual prosecutors assigned to prioritize cases of assault against letter carriers in judicial districts nationwide and to strengthen sentencing guidelines to treat the crimes in the same manner as assaults on federal law enforcement officers, he said.

Paul Peterman, president of the union’s local in Las Vegas, told the crowd that crimes against carriers rarely occurred before 2020, “however, now they are commonplace and have become more frequent and increasingly violent.”

“Here in Nevada and across the country, these crimes are physical and emotionally hurting letter carriers,” Peterman said. “These crimes need to stop now, now only for our good but for the good of every resident, business and neighborhood we serve.”

Recent attacks

In the last few years, about 30 robberies and attacks on carriers have happened in the Las Vegas Valley, including nine attacks in the Winterwood post office station near Nellis Boulevard in eastern Las Vegas and two carriers who suffered two attacks each, Peterman said.

One carrier at the rally, Roberta Dang, 40, said she was delivering mail about a year ago at an apartment complex in Summerlin when she was pushed down and rendered unconscious by a female assailant.

“My ankle (had) a completely torn tendon and my toe was smashed in so it became a hammer toe,” said Dang, who added she is still healing physically and emotionally from the attack. “When I woke up again, she was gone.”

Mike Rodsbold, 56, a 32-year veteran carrier, had a sawed-off rifle pointed to his head by a suspect who was with an accomplice committing crimes in east Las Vegas.

“They were in an apartment complex doing smash and grab, stealing money from people’s car and stuff, and were dumb enough not to show up with their own car,” Rodsbold said.

The armed man threatened Rodsbold, who allowed the two men to enter his mail truck, which had a special handbrake that the suspect driver did not know how to use and the vehicle stalled almost right away on Boulder Highway, causing the pair to flee on foot prior to being arrested by Las Vegas police, he said.

After master keys

Leighann Chouquer, 62, a carrier since 1994, said that she had not been assaulted during her east Las Vegas route, but she knows what potential assailants are after — her master keys.

“We have master keys that let us into (mailboxes at apartment) complexes,” Chouquer said. “So they are stealing our keys is what they’re after. Our master key can get into any box (assigned to a station). Each (postal) station has their own independent master key and there are 17 stations in town.”

Many of the attackers appear to be targeting female carriers, whom they believe might be easier to overpower during robberies, Chouquer said.

In the morning of March 4, a mail carrier was robbed in the 11000 block of Village Ridge Lane, near Flamingo Road west of Desert Inn Road, according to the Postal Inspection Service.

Earlier, on Nov. 14, a letter carrier was struck with a pen Taser and robbed of two master keys in the 10000 block of Moon Flower Arbor Place in Summerlin during afternoon deliveries, according to the inspection service and a Metropolitan Police Department incident report.

Contact Jeff Burbank at jburbank@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0382. Follow him @JeffBurbank2 on X.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.