PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News is taking a deeper look at postal employees getting into trouble for mail theft after a local woman's gift card disappeared on its way to her relatives in Arizona.
On Thursday, that customer told investigative reporter Aaron Diamant her story is frustrating on two levels. First is the theft itself, but also the fact she insured the package with the Postal Service but won't get her back all the money she lost.
line: Heather Rockwood really doesn't like being a victim.
"I'm angry beyond belief," Rockwood said.
The sealed box of Christmas gifts she mailed from a Paulding County post office to her family in Arizona showed up missing a $100 Target gift card.
"It ruined my Christmas; it ruined my sister-in-law on the receiving end," recalled Rockwood.
The manager of the Cobb County Target where Rockwood bought the gift card looked into
it and told her it was used to buy groceries in Memphis, Tenn.
"It's hard to put into words how frustrating it is to know that somebody has gotten into your stuff," Rockwood said.
Rockwood had paid to insure the package but didn't know the United States Postal Service only insures gift cards for $15 regardless of value -- a fact that's not spelled out on the insurance slip's fine print.
"So what? I could send eight $15 gift cards, and then they'd be covered," Rockwood exclaimed.
Maybe most frustrating, federal court records found show 15 FedEx employees were indicted in Memphis in
December for stealing from mail the company was contracted to ship for the post office -- including Target gift cards.
"If they indicted 15, how many more people are doing it?," Rockwell wondered.
Diamant dug up data from the United States Postal Service Office of the Inspector General showing between April and September of 2012, the office investigated nearly 900 cases of mail theft, delay, or destruction by postal employees and contractors that led to about 170 arrests and more than 300 administrative actions.
Though Rockwood is most concerned about her case.
"I put it in their care, and your trust is breached," Rockwood said.
The following statement was sent to Channel 2 Action News by the USPS Office of the Inspector General's chief of staff, Agapi Doulaveris, Thursday afternoon.
"The American public expects to receive their letters and parcels on time and intact. Citizens have an expectation their mail will not be stolen, rifled, read, or obstructed while in the possession of U.S. Postal Service employees. This expectation and trust extends to every one of the millions of mail pieces traveling across the country daily. Whether it is a First-Class letter or a Priority Mail piece; Express Mail; a magazine; or a family heirloom in Registered Mail, all are handled by the women and men of the Postal Service. The vast majority of postal personnel are dedicated, hard-working public servants whose daily efforts instill trust in America's postal system. However, if an employee or contractor betrays this trust, they are investigated by the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG).
Anyone expecting mail that hasn't arrived, or suspect someone is stealing their mail, can call the Office of Inspector General Hotline at call 1-888-877-7644."