Authorities are trying to find out why three private mail bags, originally from Bald Head Island, were found in a trash can in Southport.
Dean Adams, owner of Cape Fear Custom Coatings, made the discovery on May 27, when he was taking a load of garbage outside of his business, located on NC Hwy 133.
When he noticed that many of the letters were ripped open and damaged, Adams called 911. Now, detectives from the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office are trying to figure out what, if anything was taken and who is responsible.
Adams said the small green satchels included accounting documents, utility bills, office envelopes, and even personal packages and greeting cards.
According to Adams, somebody tore up at least one package and several letters had been opened.
Bald Head Island officials said Wednesday that the bags contained private mail that never entered the U.S. postal service system.
Karen Ellison, the Communications Director for the Village of Bald Head Island said the postal security system on the island was never compromised.
Still, Adams said the discovery was shocking and the fact that authorities still don't know what happened is alarming.
"It makes you think twice about the postal system and the service they provide," Adams said. "You never want your personal information or financial information in the hands of somebody you don't know. You just never know."
Mail tampering is a felony offense; however, in this case that law does not apply because this was not federal mail.
A spokesperson for the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office said the mail that was lost was "inter-office" mail and was never officially entered into the federal record system.
The lost mail was returned to Bald Head Island and has since reached it's originally intended destination.
Detectives from the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office say this case remains an open and on-going investigation.
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