Masses more mail found in storage unit

BROOKE GARDINER
Last updated 05:00 17/11/2012
mail theft sort

MAIL SORTERS: From left, Detectives Grant Miller and Matt Jones and Constable Julian Cahill.

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A case of suspected mail theft in the Queenstown area is much more widespread than initially thought with residents of Arrowtown and Lake Hayes also victims.

In a storage unit in Arrowtown on Thursday police found thousands more letters and parcels destined for Fernhill, Sunshine Bay, Arrowtown and Lakes Hayes.

Earlier this month police arrested a 32-year-old New Zealand Post contractor and charged her with theft after finding an estimated 3000 undelivered items at her Frankton Rd address.

As police sorted through the mail they discovered a range of items, some opened, including photographs, personal letters, sympathy cards, birthday cards, bills, chequebooks, parcels and a police sergeant's Telecom bill.

Detective Grant Miller said he expected the total number of recovered letters and parcels to exceed 20,000 and by yesterday afternoon they had counted 16,000 items.

Initially only the residents of Fernhill and Sunshine Bay were believed to be affected, but yesterday police found mail destined for Arrowtown and Lakes Hayes.

"She was the relieving contractor out there briefly too," Mr Miller said.

The mail sorted by police dates back to September 2011. It is not yet known whether any other areas had been affected.

The missing mail generated 101 official complaints to NZ Post between January 2010 and last week.

Queenstown Self Storage owner Brian Chisholm said the woman had hired a 1.5m x 1.5m storage unit about a year ago, but he was not aware of its contents until police contacted him on Thursday.

When police opened the unit they found nothing but undelivered mail stashed in boxes and suitcases inside, Mr Chisholm said. "I heard the exasperation in the cops' voices."

The Southland Times understands residents in other suburbs have also reported missing mail within the same period, but yesterday NZ Post was unable to provide information about the total number of complaints filed.

NZ Post spokesman Michael Tull refused to say whether the woman had been responsible for mail delivery in other parts of the area. However, he said they were looking into where else she may have relieved as part of an investigation launched last November.

The woman, who has been granted interim name suppression, could face more charges including some which fall under the Postal Act.

She was due to appear in the Queenstown District Court on Monday, but the case has been adjourned to December 3.

brooke.gardiner@stl.co.nz Any residents who believe they are missing mail should contact NZ Post customer service on 0800 501 501.

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- The Southland Times

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