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Postal Employee Is Theft Suspect

  • Smith



Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, December 28, 2015
Meriden — Police have cited a Meriden Post Office employee into court on accusations that she opened residents’ mail and stole gift cards and cash this fall before resealing the envelopes and sending them on their way.

Kim Smith, of Hartland, faces four charges in connection with the November incident, including a felony count of theft by unauthorized taking, according to documents provided to the Valley News by Plainfield police Chief Paul Roberts. The charge alleges Smith stole 17 gift cards totaling $920, as well as $200 in cash from mail addressed to residents.

Smith, 50, also faces three misdemeanor charges, including receiving stolen property, abuse of office and carrying a loaded handgun without a license. Shortly after the postal service launched an investigation, police searched Smith’s vehicle and found a loaded .380 pistol concealed in the door, according to an arrest warrant affidavit by Roberts.

Suspicion into Smith’s alleged behavior rose after residents called authorities about mail that appeared to have been tampered with.

In response, the postal service on Oct. 30 installed a surveillance camera inside the Meriden Post Office, which is located on the Kimball Union Academy campus and largely focuses on mail headed to P.O. Boxes and the KUA community. Video footage shows Smith sorting through mail and setting certain pieces aside. Then, she would open the mail, insert the contents into her pocket and reseal the envelops with a glue stick, the affidavit alleges.

Smith told Roberts in an interview she stole several times, beginning in September, the affidavit states. Smith told Roberts she has “no idea” why she stole, according to the affidavit.

Cracking the case of who the gift cards and cash belong to has been difficult, Roberts said in an interview this week. He has reached out to the stores that sold the gift cards, but has received little information about who purchased them.

None of the gift cards — T.J. Maxx, Toys R US and Hannaford to name a few — have personal information listed on them.

Smith already made some online purchases with the gift cards, she told Roberts, according to the affidavit. Her laptop has been seized, and the investigation into the incident is ongoing, Roberts said.

Messages left for Smith weren’t returned.

U.S. Postal Service Spokesman Steve Doherty said Smith has been a part-time “flexible” employee since May at the Meriden Post Office. Although she primarily works out of that office, she has also worked out of the Hartland, Weathersfield and Lebanon post offices, the police chief said, adding that Smith has worked for the postal service for the last 14 years.

Doherty said he couldn’t provide information about other Upper Valley post offices Smith may have worked out of.

“...It’s not unusual for an office to borrow an employee for a day from a neighboring office,” Doherty said. “And in that situation, a part-time flexible employee would move before a full-time regular employee. So she may have worked in other area stations intermittently.”

She is still being paid by the postal service, but because of privacy laws, Doherty said he couldn’t comment on her current job status.

Although Smith has only been charged with theft involving mail in Meriden, Roberts said a postal inspector is also investigating a theft that was reported at the Hartland Four Corners Post Office.

Subsequent calls to Doherty to find out whether the postal service is investigating thefts from other post offices Smith worked at went unanswered Wednesday.

The town of Plainfield, where Meriden is a village, also has a post office on Route 12A. The Plainfield Post Office was unaffected, Roberts said.

Plainfield Town Manager Steve Halleran said there hasn’t been much talk about the alleged theft in town.

If convicted on all charges, Smith could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.

Correction

Police have cited a Hartland woman into court on accusations that she stole gift cards from mail at the Meriden Post Office. Although police said a postal inspector is investigating a theft reported at the Hartland Four Corners Post Office, no charges have been filed in that case. A headline on the continuation of a story on page A4 of the Dec. 17 Valley News incorrectly identified the location of the crime Smith has been charged with.