'POSTAL DISSERVICE': Missing mail delivers an arrest to police

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TURN TO TED: Getting to the bottom of missing mail in Tomball (KTRK)

Neighbors in Tomball knew they were missing mail. They could prove it.

TED'S TIPS: Have problem with mail missing from your box? Scroll to the end of the story for tips on how you can keep it from happening to you.

More often than not, they were missing birthday messages, paychecks and gift cards.

"I've had a total of four packages lost in one year," Julie Childers said. "I have lost a painting."

"I missed a scholarship check for my son," Rand Hopkins said. "My October and November checks never showed up."

"This year, we received one Christmas card," Paul Gunderson said.

This is not a new problem.

The folks there say it's been happening since at least 2014.

So we set out to test the system. We sent all eight of our frustrated mail customers a Starbucks gift card, stuffed in a birthday card envelope.

Days later, only six of the eight cards made it. That was weeks ago.

"We've called the local inspector and we called the national inspectors and nothing," Brian Bishop said.

Stealing mail isn't a small deal. It's literally a federal case.

When we finally tracked down the postal inspector on the case, she was in Florida and close to an arrest. Not one, but two postal workers were arrested. Neighbors caught the mail cops making the arrest.

According to the postal service and federal documents, Tracy Turner and Jerome Mafnas had stolen letters, checks, account statement, gift cards and other mail in their possession. They were also allegedly nabbed with a stolen key to mailboxes and bags.

Federal case paperwork doesn't say how long the pair may have been pilfering the mail - but hopefully, it's stopped now.

"There's a large group of people who work for the post office and it only takes one or two people to create a problem and it taints the whole organization," Gunderson said.

Both men have pleaded not guilty. They could face a decade in federal prison.

"The message is someone is looking," Gunderson said. "Today we expect to get our mail."

Protect yourself

One of the easiest ways to know what you should expect in your mailbox is USPS' "Informed Delivery."

Each day, you'll get an email with what should be in your mailbox. If a piece is missing, you can alert the post office right away.

You can sign up on the USPS homepage.

Have a tip for Ted Oberg? A problem to solve? Get in touch with us on our tip page, or send a tip below. (On mobile? You can open our form by tapping here.)
Related Topics:
postal servicetheftUSPSTed Oberg InvestigatesTomball
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