Postie inquiry goes international

BROOKE GARDINER IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 05:00 27/11/2012

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A postie accused of stealing thousands of letters and parcels destined for the residents of the wider Queenstown area could face more charges.

Police yesterday launched an international investigation to locate senders and intended recipients of hundreds of opened mail items recovered by police at the postie's home and commercial storage unit.

A 32-year-old Queenstown woman was arrested earlier this month and charged with theft after up to 20,000 undelivered items, destined for residents of Fernhill, Sunshine Bay, Arrowtown and Lake Hayes and dating back to May 2011, were recovered by police.

Hundreds of items of undelivered mail were found to have been opened and police were now trying to ascertain the original contents of each package.

Detective Matt Jones said police had a painstaking task ahead to trace senders and locate victims.

"There is a whole box of opened mail . . . that might result in further charges against her if we find there was cash or anything valuable inside them," Mr Jones said.

Detective Brian Cameron said police were now aware of all areas the woman had been contracted to deliver mail to in the wider Queenstown area, but he would not disclose details.

The Southland Times has repeatedly asked NZ Post to identify all areas the woman was contracted to deliver mail but has not had a response.

Mr Cameron said police were also conducting background searches as part of their investigation into the thefts.

Meanwhile, the postie's colleagues were reportedly shocked to learn she had been charged.

Yesterday, a former NZ Post staffer said she had been in touch with her old workmates since the news broke and said they were shocked to learn the postie had been arrested.

"It's hard to comprehend, after working out there, how she would get away with it?"

The woman said she was in no doubt the matter could have come to light sooner if senior staff had handled complaints properly.

"There is very little room for fiddling with mail at the depot . . . once it comes off the truck it doesn't pass through many hands," she said.

The postie, who has interim name suppression, has been charged with theft and will appear in the Queenstown District Court on December 3.

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- The Southland Times

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