No gift card from grandma? Price police say it may have been stolen


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PRICE — A former postal worker has been arrested and accused of stealing mail — specifically targeting birthday cards, anniversary cards, and any envelope that looked like a card for a special occasion.

Police have connected Dakota Craig Pierucci, 21, of Wellington, to 48 card thefts, but he is suspected of stealing more than 100 pieces of mail, said Price Police Capt. Bill Barnes. Pierucci now faces possible state and federal charges.

From approximately October to December, Pierucci, who worked as a clerk in the back room of U.S. Post Office in Price, was stealing mail in the shape of cards, Barnes said. Pierucci's job included sorting mail that was supposed to be shipped off.

"He's intercepting mail before it was postmarked or entered into the system," Barnes said.

The reason he was targeting birthday cards was because he knew that "a lot of people send money or gift cards along with a birthday or greeting cards," the captain said.

Soon, residents around Price were reporting to police that their cards never arrived. "Or we had several incidents of people reporting it appeared that the card had been carefully opened and then re-sealed, and they knew because of the family connection that there should have been cash in there," he said.

Barnes did not know Wednesday how long Pierucci had been employed at the post office. He said he was laid off in December, but didn't know if it was related to the mail theft investigation.

The break for police came on Monday when a tipster anonymously reported information about some of the missing birthday cards. Barnes said police went to Pierucci's house where about 20 of the missing cards were found and he was arrested.

After being taken into custody, Barnes said Pierucci provided detectives with additional information of where more of the stolen cards could be found inside his home. He also told investigators there were more than 48 victims, he said.

Barnes said it wasn't just gift cards and cash that weren't delivered.

"Besides the money, there's pictures, there's personal notes in there, and there are some sentimental type of things like a thank you note from a grandchild to a grandparent. So those are things that no amount of money can replace and are precious to the intended recipient," he said.

Investigators were working Wednesday to deliver those sentimental items to the rightful owners. If a person believes they were victimized, officers advise them to call them at 435-636-3000 or 435-636-3190.

The U.S.Postal Service is also conducting its own investigation into the incident.

Pierucci was booked into the Carbon County Jail for investigation of 45 counts of mail theft.

Contributing: Alex Cabrero

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