Two people this week entered guilty pleas in a Waco federal court on charges of stealing mail and identities from thousands of victims in over 90 Texas cities and towns.
From North Texas to the Gulf Coast, Austin through San Antonio and west to San Angelo and Midland, the thieves made their way through the state, breaking into 96 post offices.
Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas in Waco Mark Frazier said more than a dozen of the post offices hit were in the Austin area but the thieves also hit Rockport and Corpus Christi, Killeen and San Marcos.
"What they were doing was they were breaking into post office boxes, the blue mail receptacles that you and I deposit our mail in when we go to the street corner or to the post office somewhere," Frazier said. "And they were breaking into the post offices themselves and stealing as much mail as they could get their hands on. The other thing, when breaking into post offices, they were stealing money orders and money order imprinters."
The pair used the imprinters to make money orders and cash them at banks throughout Texas. The equipment, valued at $500,000, was found buried in plastic bins near the defendants’ property in Temple.
The U.S. Postal Service said 2,000 victims have been discovered so far and they are expecting more people to come forward. Frazier said postal investigators have been working since March to find out how much has been stolen but also who might still be a victim.
"They've worked hours -- days and nights -- using spreadsheets to identify and contact people whose mail that they recovered to say, 'What have you lost, what is missing,' so that they can identify who had cash, credit cards, things of that nature, missing," he said.
The thieves stole cash, gift cards, W-2s, tax returns, personal checks, business checks, and credit cards. The pair pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to steal mail, bank fraud, theft of government property, and identity theft.