Posted at: 06/26/2013 5:04 PM
Updated at: 06/26/2013 6:16 PM
By: Brett Davidsen
When you send a package through the U.S. Mail, you might not give much thought to who is handling it. But a local postal worker is accused of swiping several priority mail parcels that contained diamonds and jewelry inside.
Authorities say Jeremy Lieberman, of Greece, admitted to stealing valuable packages from the mail distribution center.
Every day, thousands of packages pass through this postal service distribution center on Lyell Avenue. And it is there that federal investigators say postal employee Jeremy Lieberman saw an opportunity to make some extra cash. He worked there handling priority mail packages. But according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court, Lieberman was rifling through the parcels that he determined had valuable items inside.
Special agents used closed circuit surveillance cameras to watch Lieberman's every move over the course of two months and say on several occasions they saw him chase specific boxes down the moving conveyor belt.
John Field, Assistant U.S. Attorney, said, “So typically what they'd notice him do was he'd pick the package up and shake it and try and determine what was inside of it and based on what was stolen, we know he was focusing on things that were being delivered either to or from jewelry stores or diamond dealers. Things of that nature."
Authorities estimate Lieberman stole tens of thousands of dollars in diamonds and precious metals.
The U.S. Postal Service's Office of Inspector General began investigating after getting complaints of packages that had not made it to their destinations. In a statement, a spokesperson tells I-Team 10, “ Incidents of this nature are relatively rare. However, when our agents do hear of these allegations, we take them very seriously and we do investigate them thoroughly."
Once agents identified Lieberman, they went to his home in Greece and sifted through his garbage.
Field said, “And lo and behold, they found a whole lot of torn up pieces of packages and wrappings that wasn't delivered to Lieberman but was for delivery for someone else."
Agents say they also discovered empty jewelry boxes that likely contained gold and silver rings, earrings, bracelets and chains. Investigators say they have documentation that shows on 31 occasions this year, Lieberman sold similar items at local pawn shops.
I-Team 10 wanted to know what the postal service has in place to safeguard your valuable packages against employee theft. They say they do background checks and drug testing on all job applicants and also give a personality and integrity test before hiring. In Lieberman's case, he is currently suspended without pay.
So what can you do to make sure your deliveries make it to their destination? The postal service says the safest way is to send it registered mail because someone will sign off on it at every place it changes hands. In the event the package is lost or stolen, it also pays to get the insurance. If you do suspect a postal employee of theft, you can call the U.S Postal Service Office of the Inspector General's hotline at l-888-877-7644.