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Suburban Grandmother Says USPS Is Giving Her Runaround After Grandchildren's Valentine's Day Gifts Were Stolen On Way To California

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A suburban grandmother sent a Valentine's Day care package to her family in California – and wouldn't you know, the gifts weren't there when the package made it to her young grandchildren.

Now, granny is getting the runaround from the Post Office – and she asked us to get involved.

Sharon Thomas told CBS 2's Tara Molina her grandchildren's package arrived late and tampered with – and their gifts had all been stolen.

Thomas tracked the boxes' journey through USPS facilities closely. It turns out that it took quite a trip before reaching its destination – going from Illinois first to Iowa, then to three different facilities in California.

She said it was cleared out and repackaged at some point along the way.

"This is not the condition of the box I sent out," she said as she showed us a photo of the box with its packing tape and other sealing tampered with.

Sharon Thomas Box
(Credit: Sharon Thomas)

Thomas is now demanding answers from the U.S. Postal Service. She said the package had been filled with toys, storybooks, and cards – but when the box arrived in California and her grandchildren opened it, those contents were gone, and were replaced with commercial-grade furniture bags that were as far from Valentine's Day gifts as could be.

Sharon Thomas Box
(Credit: Sharon Thomas)

"Why would you steal from kids?" Thomas said.

Thomas went back to her local USPS and asked how this happened. She said an employee was surprised to see the picture of the tampered-with box.

"One of the ladies remembered me and said, 'There was no black tape on your box,'" Thomas said.

But there were no answers to her questions about the late, repackaged box. Thomas was told she should have insured her care package.

She also said that after looking at her tracking information, "they said they had been having an issue" at a facility the box went through in Moreno Valley, California.

Thomas brought all of this, including questions about issues at that facility, directly to USPS. A spokesperson said they'd need to see "if there is any investigation at this facility or security concerns," and relayed Molina to the USPS Inspector General's office.

Between the box, the shipping cost, and the gifts, Thomas said she is now out "almost $90."

Thomas said she is replacing the gifts, and is still waiting to see if USPS will cover the new shipping cost.

That was her request after this experience, which she hopes serves as a warning to others.

The USPS Chicago spokesperson also issued the following advice:

"Customers can contact the Postal Inspection service to file a report at https://www.uspis.gov/report or calling 1-877-876-2455."

USPS also said they shared Thomas' contact information with Consumer Affairs in her district in the south suburbs.

The USPS Office of the Inspector General issued this statement:

"Because the OIG is looking into this matter, we cannot comment on open inquiries or investigations. The USPS employs over 600,000 employees, and the great majority are hard workers that take pride in processing and moving the U.S. Mail. In the unfortunate event it is determined that an employee is involved in mail theft, the OIG aggressively pursues criminal cases for federal, state and or local prosecution."

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