U.S. Postal inspectors join Riverview stolen mail investigation

9:22 PM, Dec 26, 2012   |    comments
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Riverview, Florida -- There's new information in the case out of Riverview, where mail belonging to hundreds of people was stolen Christmas morning.

Investigators say they now have what may be a description of the suspects' car and are asking the public for help.

U.S. Postal inspectors in Tampa, who've now joined the investigation, were sorting through the hundreds of cards, letters and mailers found scattered on the streets of three subdivisions.

The items Hillsborough County deputies weren't able to easily return on their own were brought back to the post office in Riverview Wednesday morning.

"We'll photocopy it so at least they know what was missing, but the evidence will remain here until we're done processing it, unless someone really needs that piece of evidence," said Postal Inspector Doug Smith.

While several bills, even bank and brokerage statements remained unopened, it was the handwritten cards and letters that the thieves seemed to target.

Officials say that further suggests the thieves were after fast cash.

"Just based on the day, I would suspect that it was either searching for gift cards or for money," said Smith.

Inspectors were also back in the neighborhoods Wednesday, asking anyone with a business or home security system to check and see if they may have captured images of the suspects.

At least two suspicious activity calls were made to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office between 5 and 6 a.m. Christmas morning.

Both described a gold, tan or white-colored 4-door sedan with several occupants seen looking into, and possibly removing mail from mailboxes.

Livie Parent, who was just finding out about the ripoff since she'd been out of town for the holiday, was concerned something sent to her may be missing.

"Maybe they sent them. I never received them," she said, "If you want gift cards, do like everybody else. Earn it. Don't go around and take people's things."

Amy Kaaa agreed. Deputies returned most of her mail, but the Postal Inspector's office still had more of it.

She wants whoever did this punished.

"Sure, why not? I mean, they broke the law," said Kaaa, "They should pay the price."

And it could be a steep price at that. If convicted, those responsible could face up to five years in federal prison.

Post Office officials say this type of crime has become increasingly common this time of year. They suggest you retrieve your mail from your mailbox as quickly as possible after you get home.

If you think maybe you've been ripped off, the postal inspector's office has a toll free number to call: (877) 696-5322.

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