At least two U.S. Postal Service employees are under investigation for stealing gift cards from mail processed at an agency distribution center in Capitol Heights, Maryland. An official with the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General confirmed the investigation to the News4 I-Team Monday afternoon.
The two employees, a woman and a man, are suspected of stealing at least $9,500 in gift cards. Federal investigators said one of the employees has already admitted her role in the thefts and said she’d also served as a “lookout” for her colleague, when he opened mail to snatch gift cards. The investigators said they found 25 gift cards in the woman’s car when they searched the vehicle.
The I-Team obtained a copy of a federal search warrant request filed by the Postal Service Inspector General which detailed the agency’s investigation. The search warrant request said a manager at the Capitol Heights mail processing center found “200 sliced envelopes along with a razor blade” in the facility in August. The investigators said they’d been receiving tips about gift card thefts from “the local area” during the same time period.
The search warrant said investigators tracked one of the stolen gift cards to a June 23 purchase at the Target store in Rockville, Maryland. After reviewing surveillance video of the purchase, investigators said they determined the shopper was a postal employee “who had access to the incoming mail” at the Capitol Heights distribution center.
After interviewing the employee, investigators said she “admitted to stealing gift cards from U.S. mail,” according to the search warrant. They said she told federal agents that a colleague had “stolen the majority of the gift cards” that were discovered to be missing, including gift cards valued at approximately $7,500. Investigators said the woman admitted her colleague would “put the envelopes to the side and open and remove the gift cards when “the coast was clear."
A spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General confirmed the agency is investigating the two Capitol Heights distribution center employees. He said some of the stolen cards have been returned to the proper recipients. The agency is still working to determine if more than 200 envelopes were illegally opened.
The agency has asked a court for permission to search the male employee’s cellphone for further evidence.
U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Laura Dvorak did not immediately respond to questions about the current employment status of the two employees. In a written statement, Dvorak said, “The Postal Service takes the sanctity and the security of the mail very seriously. Two agencies, the Postal Inspection Service and the Office of the Inspector General, use law enforcement personnel to police these important safeguards.”
According to the federal search warrant, “The Postal Service mailed letters to postal customers advising them that the Postal Service Inspector General was conducting an ongoing criminal investigation and requested customers return the form and report the contents of their envelope(s), if any. The original envelopes were retained as evidence.”