DELRAY BEACH — A Delray Beach mail carrier is facing federal charges after investigators alleged that he sold U.S. Postal Service arrow keys and numerous stolen checks to an undercover agent.
Hudson Adrien is accused of theft of mail matter by an officer or employee, and theft or reproduction of a key. He was arrested Monday following an investigation that began in June, according to a federal complaint made public Tuesday.
Investigators say he has worked as a mail carrier in Delray Beach since May 2020. Court documents indicate he lives in the Broward County city of Margate. An attorney listed as his representative could not immediately be reached for comment.
Adrien made his his initial appearance Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jared M. Strauss at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. Strauss set Adrien’s bail at $500,000 and scheduled an arraignment hearing for Dec. 12.
$10,000 payment bought key to south county mailboxes
According to the complaint, a source contacted federal officials in June, saying Adrien was offering to sell an arrow key for $10,000. Federal authorities say the key opened mail boxes in Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and Boca Raton.
Authorities say the keys have become highly sought-after by thieves in recent years as they can open both community mailboxes and blue drop boxes, giving the thieves access to steal people’s checks, bank and credit-card statements.
The keys can be used only by postal service employees during the course of carrying out their assigned duties and must be returned at the end of each workday.
Since January, at least 11 people in Palm Beach County have been arrested on either state or federal charges involving the theft of mail and arrow keys.
Mail carrier claimed to have thousands in stolen checks at home
In July, an undercover agent contacted Adrien via text message and the WhatsApp private message service to express interest in purchasing the key and “paper,” a term referring to stolen checks, according to the federal complaint.
Hudson sent the undercover agent a photo of two arrow keys and what appeared to be a stack of checks the complaint alleges. On or about July 29, Adrien and the agent agreed to meet at a Walmart in Pompano Beach and exchange $10,000 for a key and a stolen check, according to the complaint.
Days later, Adrien sold a key, telling the undercover agent that it could be used to open blue mailboxes and apartment community mailboxes in the Delray Beach area, the complaint said. Adrien also sold a check that was intended to be delivered to an address on his mail route, the complaint said.
Investigators say Adrien and the undercover agent remained in contact in the ensuing months with Adrien reportedly offering to sell additional arrow keys and checks.
On or about Nov. 9, Adrien arrived at an agreed-upon location with an arrow key and 21 checks totaling nearly $550,000, the complaint said.
He was taken into custody after allegedly completing another transaction with the undercover agent. Adrien was taken to Broward County Sheriff’s Office, where he agreed to answer questions, investigators said.
He reportedly told investigators that he had several hundred thousand dollars in additional stolen checks at his home and gave consent to search the residence and his phone.
Postal Service tips for avoiding mail theft, keeping carriers safe
Federal and local law enforcement officials urge residents to pick up delivered mail as quickly as possible and avoid leaving sensitive documents sitting in mail collection boxes overnight or over the weekend. Checks and financial documents should be brought inside the Post Office for mailing.
Mail tampering and fraud should immediately be reported to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service by submitting an online complaint at www.uspis.gov/report or calling 877-876-2455. It offers these other tips to protect your mail and to eliminate risks to letter carriers.
Don’t drop mail into a collection box at night. Take it into a post office.
You can sign up for the Informed Delivery program and the Postal Service will send you an online preview of what mail and packages are coming.
If you are going out of town, sign up to have your mail held at the post office.
Julius Whigham II is a criminal justice and public safety reporter for The Palm Beach Post. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, at @JuliusWhigham. Help support our work: Subscribe today.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Federal agents arrest Florida mail carrier in USPS key theft probe