COBLESKILL, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A United States Postal worker is facing charges after being accused of stealing mail while on his route.
Police say Joel VanSteele, 21, of Schoharie, N.Y., stole gift cards, checks, and cash from various pieces of mail on numerous occasions in the past two months.
During the investigation, members of the Cobleskill Police Department and Special Agents of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General say they observed VanSteele steal mail while he was on duty. He was arrested on Wednesday without incident.
“My mom said it was in the mail, and it didn’t come,” Greg Tuck said.
Every year, Tuck’s son gets a gift card for his birthday, but this year, it never made it to their mailbox.
“He was upset, absolutely, cause you know, he counts on it every year,” Tuck said.
Tuck’s son wasn’t the only one whose mail went missing.
“A lot of people in the neighborhood have been asking, ‘Did you get my mail? I didn’t get a bill I was supposed to get,’” Tuck said.
VanSteele was charged with two counts of petit larceny, second-degree scheme to defraud, three counts of second-degree forgery, three counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, two counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, and two counts of fourth-degree money laundering.
The investigation is ongoing and police say additional charges are expected.
“We’re still exploring possibilities that he may have utilized other people to help him,” Cobleskill Police Chief Rich Bialkowski said.
USPS said they take allegations of theft by employees seriously in a statement saying: “Our agency will vigorously investigate allegations of theft of mail by a U.S. Postal Service employee.”
“It was kind of like the Grinch, you know,” Tuck said. “He took something a kid was counting on, and you know, to buy something he really, really wanted for his birthday.”
Tuck lives on VanSteele’s delivery route. He called the allegations a violation of trust.
“You would expect honesty and a little bit of integrity from people delivering your mail,” he said.
Tuck hopes VanSteele will be punished if he’s found guilty.
“It bothers me that somebody, you know, made my son upset,” he said.
VanSteele was arraigned and remanded to jail on $25,000 cash bail or $75,000 bond.
Police believe he only had access to mail in Cobleskill. Anyone who suspects their mail to have been stolen is urged to contact police at (518) 234-2923.