Blue collection boxes will be replaced in Lake Highlands. Photo by Carol Toler.

The U.S. Postal Service is removing blue collection boxes from post offices at 12,000 locations around the country — including three locations in Lake Highlands — and replacing them with high-security boxes. The action is intended to thwart a wave of robberies and mail thefts.

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Notes affixed to collection boxes in parking lots at facilities at 6640 Abrams, 10233 E. Northwest Highway and 9130 Markville say they’ll be removed November 17.

The boxes have been vandalized and broken into repeatedly at all three locations, although they are secured by lock and key. A postal employee at the Abrams facility, who preferred not to be identified, explained that the antiquated universal “arrow keys” are a type of “master” and open postal boxes across the country, making them frequent targets for thieves. He said this makes postal employees, working alone in apartment complexes, business parks and residential neighborhoods, vulnerable to muggers. In fact, one local postal employee was recently robbed at gunpoint, he said.

Nearly 500 American mail carriers were robbed last year, according to the Associated Press. In May, the National Association of Letter Carriers demanded action, protesting “armed robberies and even murders that America’s letter carriers increasingly face as they deliver the mail.”

The new boxes will be opened using a scanner, revealing who collected the contents and at what time. In 49,000 other locations, electronic locks will replace arrow locks on existing boxes.

“We’re doubling down on our efforts to protect our Postal employees and the security of the mail,” said Postal Inspection Service Chief Gary Barksdale in a statement. “We are hardening targets — both physical and digital — to make them less desirable to thieves and working with our law enforcement partners to bring perpetrators to justice.”

Boxes will be removed and replaced. Photo by Carol Toler.

A collection box in the Northlake parking lot. Photo by Carol Toler.