A postal worker has been caught stealing thousands of dollars from inside more than 6000 greeting cards after secretly opening them and removing the cash inside.
Ebony Lavonne Smith, 20, of Milwaukee in the US admitted to the crime after concerned residents spoke out after their mail wasn’t being delivered, USA Today reported.
Wauwatosa residents contacted the US Postal Service saying that a number of graduation, wedding, birthday and sympathy cards had all gone missing.
Smith was identified as the employee responsible for delivering those letters to recipients and began working in that area in March 2017.
On January 25 a test letter with $20 inside was sent, containing a transmitter which signalled when it opened.
Smith was observed by a supervisor searching through other worker’s mail and pulling out letters. She added those letters as well as the test letter to her area’s mail and placed them in her postal vehicle.
Under surveillance, she drove to the test letter’s address where the transmitter was activated.
Postal agents approached Smith before noticing the letter no longer contained the $20 note.
She returned to her vehicle, where she retrieved her purse and produced her purse. Inside her vehicle, agents discovered 54 greeting cards inside as well as a Starbucks gift card.
Discovery at scrap yard reveals extent of theft
In July, a salvage yard contacted US Postal Service saying a vehicle which was to be scrapped after being towed away contained 6625 First Class greeting card envelopes, 540 personal cheques and 45 unopened greeting cards.
Court records say Smith revealed she stole money up to two times a week to help pay bills and look after her four children.
Smith predicted she would initially steal around $40 a week before upping it to $100 a week.
Smith pleaded guilty to theft or receipt of stolen mail on September 12 and is due to be sentenced at a later date.