By Evie Andreou
A 37-year-old male postal office worker was remanded for eight days on Monday after more than 200 mail sacks with undelivered letters and small packages were found in his possession.
The suspect, who works at the mail sorting office at the old Larnaca airport, was arrested on Sunday and is being investigated for theft, illegal possession of property and abuse of power. The alleged offences took place between 2015 and October 9, in Larnaca.
The police investigator told Larnaca court that the 37-year-old, who had been under surveillance following a tip off, was arrested after officers located a bag, three mail sacks with undelivered letters and five empty mail sacks during a search of his car.
The 37-year-old admitted he had stolen the items found in his car from his workplace.
Another 217 mail sacks with undelivered letters and packages were located in his house, along with a number of empty ones.
The suspect told police, the court heard, that stealing was a vice of his and that he knew it was wrong.
Police transported the stolen items, estimated at tens of thousands of letters and several hundred parcels and small packages, to their Larnaca headquarters to be recorded.
The man admitted to stealing mail sacks from his workplace over the last 18 months. He told officers that he first stole a mail sack containing letters and parcels 18 months ago and because that first theft went unnoticed he continued stealing, the investigating officer told the court.
The suspect told police that at times he found money in various currencies, amounting in total to around €1,000. The 37-year-old, who appeared before court without a lawyer, admitted that from that point on he became addicted to stealing the sacks. He did not object to his remand.
Police said that it would take around 50 testimonies from the suspect’s work colleagues and family members, while they were also investigating whether the man was selling the stolen items to third parties.
“This is a very serious case,” police spokesman Andreas Angelides told state broadcaster CyBC after the remand hearing.
Police, he said, collected a great bulk of items as evidence, which will be recorded and those deemed as not necessary for the investigation, will be returned to their recipients.
The head of the island’s postal service Andreas Gregoriou said that they were working in close cooperation with the police.
“This is not pleasant, it is a very serious case,” he said. Gregoriou said that there had been suspicions for months.
He said that the theft concerns mail sacks to and from Cyprus.
“Their delivery is usually done outside office hours, on afternoons and evenings,” Gregoriou said. He added that the completion of the investigation would allow the service to take measures to cover blind spots as regards the surveillance system and the procedures followed.
“Wherever responsibilities arise, they will be attributed,” he said.