Mail Carrier charged with destroying and detaining mail

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

(WEAU) La Crosse- The U.S. Department of Justice contacted people in the La Crosse area notifying them that they are victims in a mail theft case.

Robert Ernstes, a former La crosse Mail Carrier is accused of stealing mail he was supposed to deliver. He is also charged with removing articles, destroying, detaining, and delaying mail that he was supposed to deliver.

One victim, James Petrillo, didn’t even know that his mail was being stolen.

“This is the first I’ve heard of this going on. Apparently our mail carriers been stealing mail, and keeping it,” said Petrillo.

Petrillo says he’s worried about identity theft.

“We need to know more information about this because if this guy was just keeping the mail that’s one thing, but if there is some identity theft going on we need to protect ourselves,” said Petrillo.

Ernstes attorney was unable to comment about the case, but according to at least Petrillo, the amount of mail stolen could be extensive.

“I called the Department of Justice and they said there are so many people that have been affected by this, that it’s going to take some time to get messages back to people,” said Petrillo.

There are ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

U.S. Postal Service Spokesman, Pete Norwacki gave some tips to avoid becoming a victim.

“Renting a P.O. box at the Post Office is always a great way to provide security. You also want to remove mail from your mail box every day as soon as possible, and dont send cash in the mail,” said Norwacki.

Norwacki warns people to stay alert for missing regular mail.

“If you’re expecting a check or anything and you think it might be late or for some reason it's missing, it’s something you’re going to want to look into,” said Norwacki.

Robert Ernstes has a hearing scheduled for march 1st.

If you believe your mail has been stolen, call the local police station, and the Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455, or go online to this address.

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