CBS 58 Investigates: Several postal workers fired after reports of stolen mail
WAUWATOSA, Wis. (CBS 58)-- Several United States Postal Service workers could face federal charges after stealing mail headed to and from Wauwatosa.
The problem started in the Summer of 2017. An employee at a Milwaukee mail sorting facility was fired in October of 2017 for tampering with mail, but it didn’t stop the problem. Residents in Wauwatosa tell CBS 58 Investigates mail with cash, checks and gift cards continued to go missing.
Every day the US Postal Service processes and delivers more than 500-million pieces of mail, Occasionally, some letters get lost in the shuffle, but residents in Wauwatosa starting noticing a pattern: cards with cash, checks and gift cards were vanishing.
“It kind of created an uproar in the community,” said Jennifer Christianson.
Christianson, who had two cards go missing, posted about the problem on NextDoor, a private social media site for neighborhoods.
“A lot of people being supportive, and a lot of people talking about how they had been missing things,” Christanson said.
Some people didn’t even know their mail was missing until family asked if they’d received their gifts.
“It wasn’t until my twin boys’ birthday in November that I realized something was wrong,” said Michele Matthai , a Wauwatosa resident who had mail stolen. “They didn’t get anything for their birthday.”
“My birthday card from my parents, that contained a check, and then a card from my brother that had a gift card [went missing],” said Keri Moore, another victim.
CBS 58 Investigates sent a dozen letters, each with a gift card, to and from Wauwatosa. Eleven showed up at their destination. But one, mailed from Wauwatosa with a check inside, never made it.
Jeff Arney with The US Postal Service Office of Inspector General says they are aware the problem continued, even after one employee at a Milwaukee sorting facility was fired in October.
“We realized after he was identified there were some additional concerns, additional reports of loss of mail,” Arney said. “And possible theft of mail from the Wauwatosa post office.”
Arney says mail goes through several sort processes before it’s delivered and employees have access to the mail during that entire process.
“The machines do a lot of the processing of the mail, however those machines are operated by humans,” Arney said.
According the USPS Office of Inspector General, between October of 2016 and September of 2017 they conducted 1,364 internal mail theft investigations nationwide, resulting in 409 arrests and 1,178 administrative actions.
Wauwatosa victims say they all reported the thefts to the Wauwatosa Post Office.
“They did say they were aware of it,” Matthai said. “They seemed pretty frustrated as well.”
Arney says you should never mail cash and if you send a gift card, write down the number. If it’s stolen, it can be tracked. He says in the Wauwatosa cases, they have been able to successfully track some of the stolen gift cards.
“We have identified other employees that have been responsible for allegedly stealing the mail,” Arney said.
Since CBS 58 Investigates started looking in to the thefts in December, one worker at a Milwaukee facility and three workers at the Wauwatosa post office resigned or were fired. Another worker is still being investigated.
Meanwhile Victims say their frustrated about losing more than just money.
“A Christmas card from our grandma, if you don’t get that because someone thought it had money in it, that’s really sad,” Moore said.
And now victims say they are no longer sending mail from Wauwatosa, and they’re trying to limit what is sent to them.
“I absolutely have informed everyone, ‘Do not send us any cash, checks, gift cards,’” Matthai said.
“Now I have everything come to work,” Christianson added.
Arney says the employees weren’t working together and federal charges against all five employees are pending.
Arney adds that while this is a problem in Wauwatosa, the overwhelming number of postal workers are doing their jobs properly.
If you had mail stolen, you can file a report here.