CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Channel 9 has reported extensively on several local postal workers who have been charged with felony mail theft in recent months. There have also been recent examples in our area of non-employees stealing mail.
In recent months, investigative reporter Paul Boyd has received a steady stream of complaints about Charlotte's mail service.
The problems range from delayed mail to undelivered mail plus missing envelopes and packages.
In fact, several people told Whistleblower 9 that birthday cards with cash inside had been targeted and even envelopes containing gift cards that were worth big bucks.
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"I've heard about a lot of mail problems going on within the neighborhood," said Ashley Lannon, who lives in east Charlotte.
She received a phone call from her stepmother the night before Christmas.
"She's like hey have you gotten our Christmas card yet? I'm like, ‘No. Why?’ She told me they had sent $100 Home Depot card in it," Lannon said.
Weeks went by and there was still no envelope.
"I was just interested to know where it went," Lannon said.
She started making phone calls and discovered the gift card had been stolen and used at a nearby Home Depot.
"I didn't use it. I never got the thing," Lannon said.
Surveillance video captured someone else using the stolen card. Lannon said investigators provided her with the images.
Last year, nearly 500 postal service employees were arrested on suspicion of mail theft.
Several individuals were from Charlotte.
There have been 5,000 non-employees were arrested nationwide on charges of mail theft and fraud, including high profile cases in our area.
"It's not about the money at this point. It's about the principle." Lannon explained.
Whistleblower 9 decided to put the U.S. Postal Service and other potential mail thieves to the test.
There were 100 people that agreed to help including many with mail problems in their Charlotte neighborhoods.
We designed special envelopes and inserted blank gift cards so it felt like something was inside.
The envelopes were stamped and mailed in uptown Charlotte.
There were 85 envelopes that were delivered in the first three days. The other 15 envelopes arrived within a week. They passed with a perfect score.
Lannon received a test envelope, too, but what about her original gift card?
Lannon said a postal inspector just solved her case.
"It turns outs, it was actually somebody in the neighborhood that had used The Home Depot gift card," Lannon said.
Charges are pending.
Channel 9's Allison Latos spoke with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Charlotte on Friday and they assured her that agents are working hard to protect your mail.
"The inspection services have had one goal since we were founded and it's to protect the U.S. mail and protect our customers from criminal attack," USPS spokesman Paul Mezzanotte said.
Charlotte's postmaster declined an on-camera interview, but released this statement:
"The U.S. Postal Service considers the sanctity of mail as its highest priority. Mail theft is a crime against our customers and the postal service. As such, we take it very seriously, will work closely with our law enforcement partners, and will pursue all remedies available to us."
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