USPS Announces Two-Week Amnesty Period for return of Postal Equipment

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service today announced a two-week amnesty period to encourage the rapid return of postal-owned equipment, especially pallets and mail tubs. This announcement comes on the heels of recent equipment recoveries made by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (go to for additional details).

“The Postal Service spent nearly $50 million this past fiscal year to replace equipment that was never returned,” said David Williams, vice president, Network Operations. “This is a serious issue. We are in a financial crisis and simply cannot afford this type of unnecessary expense. The equipment is federal property and we want it back.”

The amnesty period to return mail transport equipment, or MTE, will run from Nov. 12 to Nov. 26. Anyone possessing Postal Service MTE is strongly encouraged to return it during this time period and no questions will be asked.

During the amnesty period, small amounts of equipment can be dropped off at local Post Offices or nearby mail processing and distribution centers. Arrangements can be made for the Postal Service to pick up large amounts of equipment and/or pallets by sending an email to, and including “Equipment Pickup Request” in the subject line and company name, address where the equipment is located, type of mail transport equipment and quantity, and contact information in the message.

There also is a mail transport equipment recovery hotline — 866.330.3404 — that can be used to report the misuse of equipment, such as hoarding or recycling.

As information, the following message is printed clearly on all U.S. Postal Service equipment:

WARNING: Maximum penalty for theft or misuse of postal property, $1,000 fine and 3 year’s imprisonment (Title 18 USC 1707).” Chapter 58 of the Postal Operations Manual (POM) and Title 18 Section 1707 of the Federal Criminal Code contain the policy and laws regulating use of all mail transport equipment.

Postal Inspectors to Resume Enforcement As AmnestyPeriod Expires

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9, 2011 — Postal Inspectors today announced that, effective November 26th, they will resume their efforts to recover missing and stolen Mail Transport Equipment (MTE) and also seek prosecution against offenders. The resumption of criminal enforcement comes after the Postal Service offered a two-week amnesty period, encouraging anyone who was in possession of Postal Service equipment to return it – no questions asked.

“Theft of postal equipment is a federal crime. Replacing missing equipment last year cost the Postal Service $50 million — money that it can ill afford,” said Guy Cottrell, Chief Postal Inspector. Previous efforts to recover MTE and prosecute offenders have been successful.

In 2008, Postal Inspectors launched the Equipment Recovery Project, an effort to return MTE that leaked out of the Postal Service network. Since then, Postal Inspectors have recovered almost 200,000 pieces of MTE, including pallets, trays and tubs, worth more than $4 million. The items were reclaimed from businesses ranging from a New England fish market to California recycling firms; from pallet bounty hunters to major mailers. Criminal prosecution for theft or misuse of postal property, a federal crime that carries a penalty of up to 3 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000, was also initiated in several cases. Prosecution is pending in a current investigation where Postal Inspectors found approximately 7,500 pallets, valued at over $200,000, at a recycling company,

Individuals who are aware of the misuse of postal equipment are encouraged to contact the Postal Inspection Service at (877.876.2455) or the mail transport equipment recovery hotline (866.330.3404) and email address (