Queenstown postie was sent to check complaint

BROOKE GARDINER IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 05:00 26/11/2012

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A Queenstown postie accused of stealing thousands of items of mail was last year sent by her bosses to investigate a resident's complaint about mail delivery practices, a couple living in the town say.

Earlier this month a 32-year-old Queenstown woman contracted by New Zealand Post to deliver mail, predominantly to Fernhill and Sunshine Bay, was arrested and charged with theft after up to 20,000 undelivered items destined for Fernhill, Sunshine Bay, Arrowtown and Lake Hayes dating back to May 2011 were located at her home and commercial storage unit.

Dart Pl residents Mark and Brenda Douglas said the postie subcontracted some of her run to one of their "transient" neighbours.

Mrs Douglas said she contacted NZ Post's Queenstown branch more than 18 months ago to question why their neighbour was being sub-contracted to do the job.

They believed mail was sacrosanct and expected high standards, Mr Douglas said.

After noticing large amounts of mail being dropped off at their neighbour's house, which appeared to be operating like a backpackers hostel occupied by up to 10 people at any given time, the couple felt compelled to bring the matter to the attention of NZ Post.

"We're talking boxes of mail being carried in there each day, lots of mail. They could have easily helped themselves," Mr Douglas said.

With concerns over mail security, the couple was shocked by the response of NZ Post's Queenstown branch.

"Next thing the postie [now accused of mail theft] was on our doorstep and said she had heard we had complained about her dropping the mail off next door. I said ‘I'm shocked that you are here and know who I am'," Mrs Douglas said.

When asked why "fly-by-nighters" were being tasked with delivering their mail, Mrs Douglas said the postie told her it was standard practice. "She said ‘I am a contractor and I can sub-contract to anyone I like'."

Mr and Mrs Douglas said they were unimpressed New Zealand Post had sent the postie they had complained about to speak to them.

The postie told Mrs Douglas the Irishman whom she had sub-contracted had been police-checked and had a lock on his door so all mail delivered to his house was safe.

"How can you police check a house of nine or 10 people that were all living there . . . where the hell are their checks and balances," Mr Douglas said.

The couple had contacted Queenstown police to alert them to the possibility more mail could be located in the house next door and were still waiting to hear back from them yesterday.

On Friday police told The Southland Times they were now searching for more mail.

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Mr and Mrs Douglas said they had offered the accused postie a box of chocolates at Christmas in 2010, but she told them she "didn't deserve it".

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

- The Southland Times

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