AUSTIN (KXAN) — The holidays have come and gone, but Valerie Francis is still dealing with a missing gift she mailed her brother who lives in southeast Austin.
“I put it in the Priority Mail envelope and I mailed it,” said Francis, who lives in Frisco. Inside the envelope was a Christmas card with a $100 Visa gift card inside.
“On [December] 21, my brother called me in an absolute panic and said, ‘Valerie the postal worker just stole the card,”‘ said Francis.
He told her he was at home, sitting in the living room and looking out the front window when the mail carrier delivered the envelope to his brick mailbox.
“I told him to watch for this because it’s Christmastime, so he knew what it was,” said Francis. “He went directly to his mailbox, he pulled it out, and it was ripped open from end to end and there was nothing in it.”
He says he got in his car and tried to find the postal worker, but had no luck. So, he took the ripped envelope straight to his post office on Burleson Road where an employee took the complaint and gave him a claim number. He says he never heard back.
While visiting her brother earlier this week, Francis says she stopped by the 78744 post office and talked to a supervisor for about an hour. She says he stood up for his long-time employee and gave her a 1-800 number to call.
Francis says while she was at the post office, two other women walked in with similar stories.
“Something needs to be done…you never think about it being an inside job,” said Francis. “Vandals do that, but my brother saw [the envelope] change hands from the postal worker into his box.”
KXAN called the United States Postal Service to see if other complaints have been filed at the post office on Burleson Road.They referred us to the Office of Inspector General who investigates internal theft.
Their office cannot confirm or deny any open investigations, but says anyone who feels a postal employee has broken the law needs to file a complaint with the OIG.
The fastest way to report a problem is by going here to the USPS Office of Inspector General website and submitting a Hotline Complaint.
Given the size of the US Postal Service, the OIG says there is very little crime among its 488,000 employees. Last fiscal year, special agents completed more than 1,800 investigations which resulted in 455 arrests of postal employees and contractors for mail theft. The OIG says many of the internal losses involve theft by airline ramp clerks, private delivery drivers, mailroom clerks working for banks, postal employees and contractors.
Theft or possession of stolen mail is punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. Theft by postal employees or officers also carries the same penalties.