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A federal judge has sentenced a Chesapeake Bay man to more than 10 years in prison for conspiring to rob U.S. Postal Service employees.

According to federal prosecutors, 22-year-old O’Sirus Charles Landres Ford planned to steal arrow keys – master keys used by USPS mail carriers to access blue mailboxes. Ford was a member of a Facebook group that targets mail carriers and shares techniques related to fraud and theft.

Ford and several others rented a car on May 8, 2023, and the group targeted a mail carrier on Ballentine Boulevard in Norfolk. One of the conspirators, a minor, pointed a gun at the mail carrier and took their identification and keys.

The next day, Ford recruited 21-year-old Jayden Stukes of Suffolk and 24-year-old Da’Twan Watson of Chesapeake to steal postal keys on the peninsula. The original target was the post office in downtown Newport News, but the three changed direction and headed toward Hampton. All three were armed.

“Ford and Watson exited the vehicle to continue the search for the carrier on foot. Stukes remained in the car with the driver and relayed details of the carrier’s location,” prosecutors said in a press release.

When the two approached the van on Galax Street, only Ford was armed. He threatened to shoot the van if he didn’t give him the keys, and Ford and Watson returned to the getaway car with the arrow key. Ford pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and one count of using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

In fiscal year 2022, there were 412 robberies of on-duty mail carriers and 305 in the first half of fiscal year 2023, according to court documents. Since 2022, the Postal Service has increased mailbox security to protect against mail theft, and keys are being sold on the black market for thousands of dollars.

Eliza Noe, [email protected]

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