POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – Nearly three years after a Pound Ridge postal carrier was convicted of stealing gift cards, credit and debit cards, cash and DVDs from the mail, victims are at last getting their property back.
Tensy May Smith had worked for the Pound Ridge post office for nine years when she was arrested in January 2010. She pleaded guilty five months later to charges of second-degree grand larceny and first-degree scheme to defraud, both felonies, and was sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to make restitution. Police estimated that the thefts amounted to more than $200,000 in items.
“We have 809 pieces of evidence to return to the victims,” said Pound Ridge Police Chief David Ryan. “We have gift cards, credit cards, rebate cards, jewelry and almost 500 DVDs that will be returned to Netflix.”
Ryan said the problem of missing DVDs became so bad during Smith’s tenure that Netflix was considering halting delivery of its movies to Pound Ridge.
“But she didn’t always steal the DVDs,” Ryan said. “Sometimes she would open them and watch them and then return them.”
The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Inspector General's Office in conjunction with the Pound Ridge Police Department.
“It was a very unique case and the volume [of thefts] was significant,” Ryan said.
Investigators used a sting operation to catch Smith. Ryan said police discovered that many of the stolen gift cards were being used at the Palisades Center mall in West Nyack. Video surveillance from a store there showed Smith using the cards.
“So we put a gift card in an envelope that had a transmitter in it,” Ryan said. “It sent a signal to us when the envelope was compromised.”
Investigators then executed a search warrant at Smith’s home, where they recovered hundreds of items taken from Pound Ridge residents and elsewhere in Westchester.
Ryan said Smith’s arrest came as a shock to the Pound Ridge community.
“She was beloved,” he said. “She was well-known and always smiling and waving.”
Ryan said those who believe they were victimized by Smith may contact the Pound Ridge Police Department to see if the police have their items.