A mail thief who couldn’t stay away from the Homedale post office was identified last month after authorities installed a surveillance camera and caught the man on tape.
Three times in June and July, Postmaster Kevin Rhead came to work and found letters and other mailed items on the floor. They were found in the secured area behind customers’ post office boxes.
Rhead figured that someone jimmied some of the locked box doors, scooped out the mail and then reached out the back of the boxes and into the back of adjoining boxes to grab mail from them. The thief lost hold of some of the mail, accounting for the items Rhead found on the floor.
“It was kind of disturbing to see something like that,” said Rhead, who has served as Homedale postmaster since 2012 and has worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 25 years. “This was the first time I had seen evidence of someone breaking into the boxes.”
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The thefts took place on June 15 and July 27 and 29. Following the July 29 incident, postal inspectors installed a surveillance camera to keep watch over the postal boxes. On Aug. 24, Rhead once again found mail on the floor, evidence that the thief had returned again.
Postal inspector Darin Solmon viewed the surveillance video, recorded at 5:52 a.m. on Aug. 23. It showed a man manipulating the doors of several post office boxes, reaching into the boxes and removing mail and stuffing it into his clothing, according to a complaint filed last week in federal court in Boise.
Homedale police Sgt. Mike McFetridge, who also viewed the video, identified the suspect as Bobby Eugene Riley, 20, of Homedale. McFetridge had arrested Riley three years earlier, on a petit theft charge, when Riley was a juvenile, and was well acquainted with him.
A warrant for Riley’s arrest was issued last Wednesday, charging him with theft of mail. He was apprehended, according to a notation in the case file, although it does not say when and where he was arrested. Inmates held in a county jail on federal charges do not appear on jail rosters and the U.S. Marshals Service does not confirm their arrest or location.
Riley is scheduled to appear Wednesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Ronald Bush. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.
Solmon, who works out of the Boise office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said his office is looking into how Riley got into the locked boxes and whether any security improvements need to be made. He declined to provide further details, citing the ongoing criminal case.