May 31, 2010 8:00 AM by David Ortiviz

News First 5 investigates mail tampering in Pueblo

The U.S. Post Office in Pueblo says its been working extra hard to restore the public's confidence since something bad happened. A couple of months ago, you may remember three workers were caught stealing money and gifts cards from the mail. Another employee is under investigation. It's raised the question, is the mail safe?

The three workers swiped nearly $5,000 from the mail. They were fired and prosecuted. However, News First 5 wanted to know if mail tampering is common.

We tested the post office by running an experiment. We bought 30 greeting cards, filled them with gift cards or small amounts of cash and mailed them to KOAA-TV employees in Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Penrose. We wrote messages on some of the envelopes like "a little something for your hard work" and "spend wisely." On a few of the letters, we didn't even send a card--held up to the light, you could see something valuable was inside.

A few weeks later we had the results. Every single letter arrived at its destination--30 pieces of mail, with no evidence of tampering.

"The good part of that is, you tested us and I didn't know anything about it," said Bob Podio, Pueblo Postmaster.

Podio says our test proves the post office can be trusted. "After my 36 years it just revalidates the ethical conduct of postal employees," said Podio.

Podio says like any company, the Pueblo post office had a few bad eggs. Now that they're gone, Podio says his staff has been re-energized to do a better job--hoping to restore the public's confidence. "I remember when I started as an employee in the mid-70s, you could lay a $100 bill on a desk and come back seven weeks later and have 3 inches of dust on it and nobody would touch it," said Podio. "And I think we're getting back to that way," he added.

Internally no rules or security procedures have changed since the fallout, but Podio says any tips or reports of internal mail tampering are fully investigated.


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