Authorities have arrested two of the four people the U.S. Postal Service suspects of having committed a string of post office box burglaries in Auburn, Milton and Tacoma between June and July of 2019.
On Tuesday, Postal Inspector John Wiegand of the Seattle Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service identified the suspects caught to date as Justin Lee Tate, 30, and Taleetha Kristie Revels, 37.
Records show the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office arrested Tate and Revels in the Tacoma area in August, and the Pierce County Prosecutor’s office has since charged them with 15 felony counts comprised of identity theft, forgery and second-degree theft relating to checks stolen from the boxes.
Wiegand noted that Revels is not the woman whose image appears in images captured at the post offices but was identified during the course of the investigation.
Here, according to Pierce County Superior Court records, is a summary of what happened:
On evening of July 23, the trio broke into multiple P.O. boxes at the Auburn Main Post Office and stole mail. On that occasion, one of the men saw his face on a reward poster and ripped it from a wall.
On July 31, 2019 postal inspectors found Tate and Revels in a van at the home of Revel’s grandmother. According to court records, Tate told the inspectors on that occasion he had learned that an acquaintance had stolen a credit card from another post office box via an undisclosed method, so he decided that he, too, would start looking into post office boxes.
According to court records, Tate told inspectors it had been very easy to pull open some of the older boxes, that he had targeted post office boxes in Tacoma and Auburn, and he confirmed he was receiving information from another person.
Tate told inspectors that he had looked specifically for credit and debit cards, checks, W-2’s and medical information, that the other person he was working with was a gang member, and that he received money in return for the stolen documents he turned over, according to court records.
According to court records, Tate told inspectors that he was coerced into committing the crimes because his acquaintance had threatened to harm Revels. He also claimed that he took part in the crimes so his own family wouldn’t get hurt.
According to court records, Tate told inspectors that he himself had stolen approximately $10,000 to $15,000 worth of checks, and he described how he altered the checks that were later cashed. According to court records, Tate told inspectors that Revels didn’t know anything about the mail, and said that she initially did not want anything do with “it” , but explained that she had a gambling habit.
Tate told inspectors that he, too, had a gambling problem and used methamphetamine, according to court records.
According to court records, Revels told inspectors that a number of accounts were opened in her name without her permission and that she’d made withdrawals from a KeyBank account under duress, as she believed Tate would have hurt her otherwise. According to court records, Revels told inspectors that although she had never reported Tate to the police, she felt he would hit her if she didn’t do what he asked. According to court records, Revels told the postal inspectors that she reported the incident to KeyBank. but KeyBank has no evidence showing that such a call was made.
According to the prosecutor’s office, the investigation is ongoing and additional charges will likely be filed.