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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  • by Mike Location: La Crosse on Feb 20, 2012 at 05:28 AM
    I received a notice about this as well as my daughter who lives in Minnesota. I had sent her a Christmas card with two department store gift cards for Christmas 2010. She never received them. I was lucky enough to have saved the receipts so the stores reissued the gift cards to resend again. I had always thought this was a case of "lost in the mail" until getting this notification.
  • by MICHELLE GUNTHER Location: Melrose on Feb 16, 2012 at 08:22 AM
    As a rural route carrier - please do not assume all postal workers would do this - most of us pride ourselves on great customer service and would go above and beyond to make sure you receive your mail in a secure and timely manner. Honestly, if you have been getting your neighbors mail, call the local Post Office and ask to speak to your carrier...they will help you long before anyone else and if they don't then you need to speak to their Postmaster.
    • reply
      by Eau Really on Feb 17, 2012 at 06:33 AM in reply to MICHELLE GUNTHER
      Or if you live in the city, just walk next door, say hello and give them their mail. I agree most are certainly act professionally.
  • by nels on Feb 16, 2012 at 06:54 AM
    after making many wasted trips to the mail box i have changed my address to the local recycling center, saves a lot of time and storage space
  • by Anonymous on Feb 16, 2012 at 06:20 AM
    I have been receiving the neighbor's mail, not receiving my own mail, having my mail returned marked "moved left no forwarding address" and complaining and complaining and complaining to the local and national postal authorities for years, with no response. Honest to god, I once sent in an e-mail complaint to Washington, and six weeks later I still had not received a response. When I followed up with Washington, I was told they had SNAIL MAILED me a response immediately, but guess what? I never received it. They still have done nothing to track down the source of the problem.
  • by Dave on Feb 15, 2012 at 07:40 PM
    This mailman must have been trained by Newman from the Seinfeld show!
  • by Ralph Location: Eau Claire on Feb 15, 2012 at 03:59 PM
    I get other people's mail at least once a month.
    • reply
      by Camper on Feb 16, 2012 at 10:10 PM in reply to Ralph
      Wow! In 51 years I have never had a problem with the PO. Try calling ATT and see what you get.
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