If you live in the Leicester area and had an online shopping purchase that failed to arrive during the past couple of years, you may well have been funding the lavish lifestyle of one dodgy postman.
Yogeshbhai Patel, 38, has now been jailed for two years for pocketing thousands of pounds worth of mail. So how do we ever know that our post is safe from thieves?
The court heard how the Leicester postman stole mail including 2,000 DVDs and 2,250 games along with CDs and other electrical equipment. Patel pocketed £46,686 over two-and-a-half years by intercepting these valuable packages and spent the money on living a luxury lifestyle including helicopter rides and a trip to Las Vegas.
It is reported that while his bosses thought he was a model employee as he arrived an hour early for work at the delivery office every day, he was actually looking for packages to steal. Leicester Crown Court heard he then ensured the valuables, destined for other postal rounds, went into his own sack of mail.
Patel, 38, of Wigston, Leicester, admitted theft of post as well as money laundering, by cheaply selling thousands of new stolen items to a second-hand games and electrical goods store.
Investigators later received an anonymous tip-off that a postman was selling a large number of games and electrical items to a store in the city centre, where they found the specially marked X-box game, out of its wrapping, on sale for £1.50.
When sentencing, Judge Michael Pert QC said rightly pointed out: "If we can't trust our postmen and women we really are in trouble. It has to be custody. The courts need to make it clear to others that might be tempted."
Sending cash through the post has always been a risky move, and there's simply no need to with the ease and security of transferring funds through online banking. When it comes to online shopping purchases, paying with for transactions over the value of £100 with credit card offers protection under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 – which makes the provider joint responsible with the vendor if your purchase does not arrive or it is faulty.
For smaller purchases, if you use a reputable site – lets say Amazon or John Lewis for example, you are able to track your purchase to see where it is in the postal system. It is also crucial keep note of order numbers so you can contact the retailer if it fails to arrive.
Royal Mail investigate lost or late mail only after it is missing for 15 days – as this gives adequate time for it to be returned to sender if there has been a problem with delivery, such as incorrect address or wrong postcode. When it is missing after this time, you'll need to contact Royal Mail by filling in the online missing mail form.