USPS Reminds How to Keep Snail Mail Safe
COLUMBIA - Thousands of pieces of mail travel though the Columbia's post offices every day. Chris Reed has been working for the United States Postal Service in Columbia for more than thirty years and said he's seen his fair share of damaged mail. He said many packages and letters get opened or damaged when they're processed. He said a machine is to blame.
"The letters go though a machine at 100 mph. If letters are not as they should be, things can get ripped and lost," said Reed.
Howard Hutton is the general clerk at the post office on Walnut Street downtown. He said bulky letters can get caught on the pulleys and belts on the machines.
"When someone sends a letter with something chunky in it and it doesn't get called out, it will stop up one of those machines," said Hutton.
When items fall out of the envelopes, they are sent to the Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta, Georgia to hopefully find their rightful home.
But some items don't even make it to the distribution center. Hutton said that mail carriers are followed by people everyday who want to steal mail, and Reed said he notices it every once in a while. Reed said it's more common to have people try and steal from mail boxes in bigger cities than Columbia.
"Thieves will follow the letter carriers and or go ahead of [us] and steal the outgoing mail or follow [us] and steal the stuff that just came in," he said.
The USPS has some guidelines to help customers avoid these incidents.
"If you want your mail to not get messed up and to be safe and secure, addressing is most important," said Hutton.
Hutton said people should use the USPS cardinal rule to ensure items aren't stolen.
"We always say don't send cash in an envelope, and if you are sending a credit card or gift card, wrap it, so it doesn't feel like that item. You also need to keep receipts of the items," he said.
And if your item has value Reed recommends putting the letter in a blue mailbox or in the hands of someone reliable.
"You can always hand it to a letter carrier. We are all over town you can't miss us," he said.
If something is lost in the mail, call a local post office or the mail's destination office to give a description of the item.