WAUWATOSA, Wis. – U.S. Postal Service inspectors say a worker took cash, gift cards and checks from thousands of envelopes addressed to Wisconsin residents.
Ebony Smith, 20, admitted to stealing more than 6,000 letters from residents in two Wauwatosa ZIP codes – 53226 and 53213 – according to WITI. It was a special blue envelope that helped catch her in the act.
When residents realized their greeting cards with cash inside weren't getting delivered, the United States Postal Inspection Service opened an investigation and learned that Smith delivered mail to both zip codes.
In January, inspectors placed a first-class card containing a $20 bill in a special blue envelope. When opened, the enveloped triggered a transmitter letting the USPS know the bait was taken.
On Smith's route, investigators approached her outside of her vehicle. The $20 was gone and officials allegedly also found a bag containing 31 greeting cards and another 23 cards near the front seat.
According to a plea agreement, Smith admitted to stealing cash, checks and gift cards from Washington Highlands residents along her route -- saying she would take "$50 to $100 per week."
On July 24, Smith's Honda Odyssey was towed to a Milwaukee scrapyard. Photos obtained by WITI show what workers found inside: 6,625 greeting card envelopes and 540 personal checks. All were postmarked between March of 2017 and this past January, and not belonging to Smith.
It was more than enough for prosecutors to file federal charges. Smith pleaded guilty to mail theft on Sept. 12. Her sentencing date wasn't immediately released.