(WTNH) — Have you ever mailed a check, gift card, or cash and realize later it never arrived at the intended destination? You might be a victim of postal pirates that may be inside or outside the postal service.
According to the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General, it is only a small number of postal service employees have been found to “abuse the public’s trust.”
The overwhelming majority of Postal Service employees work conscientiously to move the nation’s mail to its proper destination. Unfortunately, a small number of employees abuse the public’s trust by delaying or stealing the mail. It is the job of special agents to identify dishonest employees and take proper investigative steps to have them prosecuted and removed from the Postal Service.”uspsoig.gov
The USPOIG explained, special agents that are federal law enforcement officers investigate these internal crimes and fraud against the Postal Service to safeguard revenue and assets and help deter crimes. These agents, who are stationed in 66 offices nationwide, conduct investigations that include internal mail theft.
On July 14, 37-year-old Michael McGuirk of Windham was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Hartford to three months in prison for theft of mail by a postal employee. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for CT, McGuirk, while employed as a sales associate at the post office in Columbia, was caught on surveillance video taking mail including packages and greeting cards containing gift cards and other items of value. The investigation revealed he then tried to sell some of the items on eBay. He has also been ordered to pay restitution of $5,774.70. He is due to report to prison on September 14.
Some other thefts here in Connecticut have been investigated in Middletown, Farmington, Plymouth, Granby, and even Fairfield.
Here’s a look at some other recent cases according to court records:
- Jessica Giles, a former supervisor at a post office in Fairfield plead guilty to theft of mail by a postal employee. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office CT between October 2019 to May 2020 she used her phone flashlight on envelopes she believed contained cash. She opened the envelopes, stole the cash, and threw away the envelopes. In April she was sentenced to two years’ probation and fined $2,400.
- Zoheb Deura plead guilty to embezzlement for stealing packages containing a computer, play station and Nintendo, iPhone, footwear, and clothing items. Deura was a former postal supervisor in Middletown. He was sentenced in January to three years probation and a $20,000 fine.
- Amy Makaros plead guilty to theft of mail in August. The former Farmington mail carrier is accused of stealing numerous pieces of mail including greeting cards that contained gift cards and other items of value. When she was confronted by investigators, Makaros admitted the theft and reportedly surrendered approximately 19 pieces of mail and four gift cards she stole. No word on the penalty imposed.
According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, in fiscal year 2018 almost 2,500 people nationally were arrested by postal inspectors for stealing mail and packages. It’s not just postal service employees, it’s “porch pirates” and mail thieves outside homes and businesses.
Investigators say thieves steal mail from postal boxes or outgoing mail from a home owner’s mailbox. Some of those thieves are caught on surveillance video.
One such case earlier this year was in Ellington. After several thefts from a postal box at 2 Church Street, a surveillance camera was installed. Unfortunately, for the thief, he struck one too many times and was caught on camera and arrested.
On March 29 Tomlin Hooper was charged with unlawful possession of a mail key and attempted mail theft. According to the U.S Department of Justice, Hooper – who is not a postal employee – was in possession of a legitimate USPS arrow key giving him access to the mailbox. The key was traced back to the Vernon Post Office. How he gained possession of it is still unknown.
Court documents allege he altered and fraudulently negotiated checks at financial institutions. In some instances, he is alleged to have used stolen checks and money orders to make counterfeit checks which he then used to take money from the victims’ accounts. Authorities believe he may also be responsible for similar thefts from a mailbox in Enfield in January.
Waterford Police are also looking for the person who stole mail from the mailbox outside the Quaker Hill Post Office and fraudulently deposited a Waterford resident’s check at a Police and Fire Credit Union ATM in Philadelphia in January where he was caught on surveillance camera.
In May, Orange Police received several complaints of mail stolen from curbside mailboxes. The victims said they left a flag up on the mailbox to alert the mail carrier of outgoing mail inside. The thefts were discovered when the residents realized their personal check made out to utilities and others had been “washed” and then cashed.
To see ways you can try to keep yourself from becoming a victim or to report if you think you may be a victim visit these sites:
You can also file a mail theft complaint by calling 888-USPS-OIG or by visiting File an Online Complaint | USPS Office of Inspector General (uspsoig.gov)