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Postal Service auditing Philadelphia post offices that have dealt with mail delays and theft

The audits come after years of reports of lost mail, stolen packages, and delivery delays of up to several months in Philadelphia.

The post office at 25th and Snyder in South Philadelphia.
The post office at 25th and Snyder in South Philadelphia.Read moreALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer

The United States Postal Service is auditing three post offices and a mail distribution center in Philadelphia amid ongoing complaints about lost mail and stolen packages.

The Postal Service’s Inspector General will evaluate operations at the Philadelphia Processing and Distribution Center and three post offices in Germantown, Logan, and North Philadelphia, the office said in a statement. The audit will evaluate the “efficiency of operations” at the distribution center, survey conditions at the post offices, and assess customer service and mail delivery, the office said.

According to the Postal Service, the audits at six post offices in Philadelphia and Delaware, along with distribution centers in both states, started Oct. 19. The reports from the audits are expected in January, the postal service said.

The audits come after years of reports of lost mail, stolen packages, and delivery delays of up to several months, especially during the holiday season, in Philadelphia. The city has also had issues with thieves stealing thousands of dollars worth of checks directly from mailboxes, often by accosting postal workers and stealing the universal keys they use to unlock collection boxes.

“During our reviews, we focus on data and observations around five areas: delayed mail, package scanning, truck arrival scans, arrow keys, and property conditions,” said a spokesperson for the United States Postal Service’s Office of The Inspector General.

The office declined to comment on what specific issues prompted the audit.

The postal service did, however, say a number of factors led to selecting the audit locations, including a joint letter sent last month by U.S. Senator Bob Casey, U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans , and U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, all Democrats from Pennsylvania.

“For years, I have heard from constituents about ongoing mail delays in Philadelphia. As long as these issues are allowed to persist, they will continue to disrupt the daily lives of Philadelphians and deny them a critical service necessary for their health, safety, and expression of their constitutional rights,” Casey wrote in a statement.

Residents in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood allege that mail was sometimes delivered months late, and some packages were completely lost or envelopes were delivered with money or gift cards removed, Casey said. Residents had also told members of Congress that more than 2,000 pieces of mail were found in bags dumped near a Germantown post office, according to the statement.

Germantown residents fed up with the dysfunction organized a rally in June calling for new management and for a Community Advisory Council to help improve mail delivery and to prevent mail from being stolen, WHYY reported.

“Quality mail service — timely, secure, and responsive service — is not optional,” Casey said in the statement.

The audits were announced less than a week ahead of Election Day and the day after Pennsylvania’s top elections officials advised voters to deliver their mail ballots personally rather than rely on the mail.

Officials said Tuesday that voters who still had their mail ballots could risk their ballots arriving late if they used the Postal Service.