Mail-Order Bandits

Armed robbers collect stamps -- and cash -- at city post offices

Two San Francisco bandits have gone completely postal: They're robbing city post offices. And the federales are offering big dough for their capture, or at least for the information that leads to it.

During the past month, the pair -- and possibly a third, their getaway driver -- have robbed the Mission Post Office on South Van Ness, and twice robbed the McClaren station on San Bruno Avenue.

In each of the robberies, some time around 10 in the morning two African-American men have burst through the front doors of the post offices waving small semiautomatic handguns, possibly Barettas. Flourishing their weapons, the pair have made everyone in line hit the deck, on one occasion even kicking a customer who didn't lie down fast enough.

Inside of about two minutes, the bandits, who wear hooded sweat shirts, dark pants, and brown gloves, have hopped over the counters, grabbed money, stamps, money orders, and anything else in the clerks' cash drawers, and run back out the door.

The only other thing anyone can say for sure is that the robbers like Jeep Cherokees. The night before each of their stickups, the suspects have stolen a Jeep Cherokee, used it as a getaway car, and then abandoned it a couple of blocks away from the post offices.

The stickups are the first in San Francisco stations in more than four years (though last July, a masked man ran into the McClaren station, grabbed some cash, and ran out), according to Postal Service Public Information Officer Tom Taylor. But earlier this month, three armed men, also wearing hooded sweat shirts, robbed a post office in North Hollywood. Investigators don't know yet if the same bandits could be behind the San Francisco robberies.

The Postal Inspection Service -- generally in the business of chasing fraud, drug smuggling, and money laundering -- is offering a $25,000 reward (more than it's lost so far in the robberies) for information. So you may want to take a good look at these surveillance photos.

"We are making a strong appeal to the city of San Francisco," says Taylor. "If anyone knows anything, it's worth $25,000."

To relay information, call the Postal Inspection Service 24-hour hot line at 778-5900 or the San Francisco Police Department at 553-1201.

See the full surveillance tape online at www.sfweekly.com

 
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