USPS employees stealing mail; targeting of drugs for vets on the rise

mail

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Across the country, United States Postal Service and parcel service employees have been caught stealing your mail.

In fact, the number of employees convicted of internal mail theft has increased nearly 36 percent in the past three years, an I-Team 8 investigation has uncovered.

According to the latest semi-annual report delivered to Congress, the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General reported that in the past year, 550 employees have been convicted of internal mail theft. That’s up from 352 convictions in 2013.

What are they targeting?

According to the closed substantiated investigative files reviewed by I-Team 8, postal employees have been caught stealing a variety of items — from money orders to coupons to prescription drugs — often being shipped to veterans by their local VA pharmacy.

Jeff Arney, a public information officer with the USPS OIG office in Chicago acknowledged the problem, but he told I-Team 8 it’s difficult to determine if the number of theft cases are increasing or if inspectors are getting better at catching the thieves.

I-Team 8 filed a number of open records requests under the Freedom of Information Act seeking details on internal mail thefts investigated by both the USPS and the VA.

What we found:

  • In the past five years, the USPS Office of Inspector General has closed more than 50 substantiated cases of internal mail theft in the Indianapolis area.
  • Across the U.S., more than 16 cases in 2016 were investigated by the VA’s Office of Investigations. Nearly all of those cases involved a USPS worker or employee of another parcel service stealing powerful prescription pain medications that were intended to be shipped to veterans.
  • The problem appears to be so pervasive that the VA changed the way it ships medications to veterans in 2016.

Certified mail is an ‘easy target’

The VA used to require that prescription pain medications were shipped certified mail, meaning the recipient had to sign for the package in order to receive the medications.