URBANA, Ill. (CBS) – He forced his way into her home to rob her. Then dragged her around the house, punched her, shoved her in a closet, and pinned her in with a dresser. The senior citizen stayed there for almost three days. As CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman learned, no one might have come to her rescue, had it not been for a very observant mail carrier.
Mail carriers know quiet streets aren’t always what they seem. When a senior citizen from Urbana answered her door Friday, a stranger got in and got the better of her.
“I’m just glad she’s ok,” said postal carrier Darryl Dague.
The reason she is “ok” is because Dague noticed something was wrong. When he came by Monday, he saw Saturday’s delivery still in the box. Dague could also hear the woman’s TV was on but no sign of her, so he called his supervisor who called police.
Officers found the woman in a closet because the man who robbed her put her there, then shoved a cabinet in front of her so she couldn’t get out.
“It’s real scary for her to be in a closet three to four days,” said Dague.
Call it another case of the postal service to the rescue.
“It happens much more often than you think,” said U.S. Postal Service District spokesman Mark Reynolds. “We don’t track it, but I think every letter carrier has a story.”
Chicagoan Debbie Green has a story. Last summer she was delivering mail and smelled smoke coming from a home and found two elderly women inside. She moved a piece of burning furniture and was able to call for help.
“Right place at the right time,” said Green.
Reynolds said, “The important thing to remember here is letter carriers are an extra set of eyes and ears in our community.”
“We all rise to the occasion,” said Green, “We are the Postal Service.”
Green told us about a program called “Carrier Alert.”
If you live alone, you can put a designated symbol in your mailbox, alerting letter carriers to watch for piling mail, or any signs of distress. We don’t know if the woman in Urbana was signed up for it.