The U.S. Postal Service has issued a warning for anyone who may be using a plastic postal tub for personal use - you could go to jail.
Some people may not realize that it is illegal to posses a postal tub for their own use. The tubs are federal property and belong to the Postal Service.
Officials estimate the Postal Service spends about $50 million a year to replace stolen equipment.
"It is essential we have this equipment to accept, sort and move the mail within the processing network. We need this to process the mail to get it out to our customers," said Holly Patterson, with the U.S. Postal Service.
Many of the tubs are left full of mail at area businesses to be emptied and returned the next day.
"Postal inspectors will be stopping by area businesses looking for these. Of course, you have already been warned on the side here, this is federal property. And keeping one has a stiff penalty," Patterson said.
The maximum penalty includes three years imprisonment and a $1,000 fine, but all it takes to avoid punishment is returning the tubs promptly.
"We're asking that anyone return our postal equipment either to the local post office or our processing, distribution center, which is 525 Royal Parkway," Patterson said.
And if you are still hanging on to a tub, keep in mind that tax dollars don't replace them. Instead, customers pay the bill in the form of increased costs for stamps and shipping.
"If you'll recover the equipment, maybe that will help," Patterson said.
The Postal Service has established a hotline to report illegal use of its postal tubs. For more, call 1-866-330-3404.
Also, if you have tubs that need to be picked up, you can email the Postal Service at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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