The U.S. Postal Service took advantage of the International Plastics Showcase, NPE 2015, to broaden awareness with respect to curbing the flow of stolen USPS mail transport equipment to recyclers, as reported in the Plastics News. communicate its “Got It. Return It” message to plastics recyclers and processors.
USPS warns that the misuse or theft of such equipment, including its nestable plastic pallets, mail tubs, and letter trays, is a federal crime. Penalties can range up to three years of jail time and fines for those convicted.
One successful prosecution involved the apprehension of a postal truck driver, who had stolen over 40,000 postal pallets, valued at $1.7 million. He sold them for $1 each.
The pallet thefts began in early 2012, and went unobserved for a period of time, with two full loads of pallets, roughly 400 to 500 in number, being stolen on a monthly basis. During January to May 2013, volumes increased to around 10 tractor trailer loads per month. The illicit operation ended after the buyer of the stolen pallets agreed with authorities to wear a wire.
In addition to jail time, the driver was ordered to make restitution of $400,000 after his release from prison and submit to two years of supervised probation. The driver currently free pending appeal of the sentence.
According to the Plastics News interview, postal inspectors continue to investigate multiple leads, including a case involving the discovery of more than 44,000 pounds of resin pellets at a recycling operation in Compton, California – about 2 days production. The recycler would hide the distinctively marked orange and black postal pallets behind other pallets in its storage yard. This investigation is ongoing.
Reports of unauthorized use of postal transport equipment can be reported to the USPS hotline at 866-338-3404.