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Construction worker finds stolen mail: 'It gets me so angry'

KBAK/KBFX photo

A construction worker said he found piles of stolen mail left in trash bins in northwest Bakersfield.

The Good Samaritan tried to return some of the mail, and he contacted U.S. Postal Service authorities. On Friday, postal inspectors picked up the latest batch and promised an investigation.

"This right here is boxes, trash cans, truck-sized loads of mail," Michael Adams told Eyewitness News. He's working at some new homes under construction just off Rosedale Highway.

Adams said crews have been spotting mail in their construction trash bins for a few weeks.

"It angers me so much to see this stuff, 'cause I know how I would feel," he said.

Adams said one of the first things he saw was a wedding invitation, and he's getting married at the end of the year, "I know how my fiancee would feel if she knew her wedding invite ended up in the trash at a construction site," he said.

Adams said at first there were small amounts of mail, and his boss had boxed it up, and took it to the Post Office.

Then, there was more late last week, and even more over the weekend. He said crews spot the mail in the morning when they get to the work site, and they've never spotted who is dumping it off.

And, he's convinced it's not discarded mail, it's stolen, and it's things people want.

"There were income tax returns, there were checks," he described.

But, Adams said there were no credit cards with the mail. "And all the hand-written stuff, all the letters, and all the packages, were ripped open and everything in there was taken."

Adams spotted mail for a local restaurant, and he called them. He said someone from the restaurant came out to look it over.

And, Adams went out of his way to reach other mail-theft victims.

"I've looked up people on Facebook, messaged them, got a hold of these companies that were sending this mail," he said. Adams reached a northwest Bakersfield man whose address was on some of the mail.

That victim, who is currently out of state, called Eyewitness News to say how grateful he was that his mail was found. He's been worried about mail thefts in his neighborhood.

Adams said he called Bakersfield Police, but was told there's not much they can do. He also contacted the Post Office.

On Friday morning, several Postal Inspector officers pulled up, and collected a large pile of mail.

Eyewitness News also contacted U.S. Postal Inspector Jeff Fitch.

"We appreciate getting contacted about possible stolen mail any time," Fitch said by phone. "We will follow up and investigate." Fitch said the investigators who came out to the scene will contact the victims and get the mail delivered to them.

Fitch stresses mail theft is a federal crime, which can result in a prison sentence of up to 5 years. He also said there's a standing $10,000 reward for information leading to a conviction.

The Postal Inspector also urges anyone with information, or any victim, to call their 24-hour hotline at (877) 876-2455.

Adams said he's still worried. Some of last week's stolen mail didn't get recovered by victims, so it got scooped up by trash crews, and ended up at the dump.

On this Friday, the postal inspectors retrieved the stolen mail in the bin just before the trash guys came through.

Adams was relieved by that, and calls it a "small step in the right direction."

He also hopes that anyone who finds stolen mail would try to do something. But, he really wants something done to stop mail theft.

"They're going to have to figure out a new mail system with the boxes," Adams said. "You just hear every day about mailboxes being broken into. I mean, there's got to be a better way, 'cause this is a joke."

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