MOUNDS, Oklahoma - In hopes of getting money and gift cards, a Green Country postal carrier is accused of stealing thousands of pieces of mail.  Detectives say victims could be in Glenpool, Bixby and Mounds, as well as rural areas of southeastern Creek County and northern Okmulgee County.

Investigators say the woman worked at the Mounds Post Office for several years as a part-time mail carrier and, they originally believed for the past six months she's been stealing mail, but now say she may have been doing it for eight years.

Police say the woman delivered mail to at least 1,200 homes in the two days per week worked.

Both local and federal detectives are investigating and asked News On 6 not to release the woman’s name. But, they hope, through this story, more victims will be found.

“She stole from a lot of people,” said Glenpool detective, Sergeant Tracey Powell.

Powell said a missing birthday card, and a suspicious grandfather, is what got the ball rolling on the investigation.

“Calls the granddaughter and says, ‘Did you get my card?’ And was like, ‘Nope, we haven't got it yet,’” Powell said.

The card, with a Target gift card inside, was supposed to be delivered to the Eden South housing addition in Glenpool. The grandfather kept the receipt, which had the gift card’s number, and when the gift never made it, he called Target and found out it was used in south Tulsa. Knowing that, Powell got security footage from the store and started asking questions.

“Went door-to-door in that neighborhood and they go, ‘Yeah, my kid didn't get their birthday card, they didn't get these cards,' and so, I’m thinking this is a little bit bigger,” the detective said.

Powell said it would have been hard for someone to steal that much mail directly from the mailboxes without getting caught. He said the only plausible suspect was the mail carrier, so he showed the Target security footage to the Mounds Post Master.

“She goes, ‘that's my carrier, that's my sub, that's her there's no doubt,’” Powell said.

On Friday, Powell said he and a U.S. Postal Office special agent with the Inspector General’s Office followed the mail carrier on her route and caught her red handed.

“She would go through the mail, find what she wanted, and then she would take that mail and set it aside,” he said. “She had a stack of gift cards Friday when we got her.”

While Powell said she was stealing things like birthday cards, he said she was delivering all the other mail, like bank statements and bills. He said that means she wasn't trying to steal anyone's identity.

“She said, 'No, no! I'm not a thief. I don't want to do anything like that.' But you're stealing from kids, their birthday money,” Powell said.

Powell said it's likely the woman stole and opened thousands of pieces of mail, looking for gift cards and money, then, she threw the cards or letters away.

“We recovered some mail, we'll be able to get that back to them, but there's mail that those people are never gonna get,” Powell said.

The detective said charges have not been filed, and he’s hoping more victims come forward before he sends his report to the district attorney.

“We may be able to add additional charges in other jurisdictions,” he said. “And there’s still in a good window for being able to get video.”

The news certainly has residents, like Justus Gildon, curious if they might be victims, too.

“I've been waiting on a QT gas card from a dealership and I never got it...kind of makes me wonder if that's where it went,” Gildon said. “It is a betrayal of trust. You definitely think you can trust the mail service, especially the mail lady.”

Inspector General special agent Kenneth Smith said his office is investigating, and that tampering with the mail is a federal crime, but said the public shouldn’t lose faith in the Postal Service.

“The overwhelming majority of postal personnel are dedicated, hard-working public servants whose daily efforts instill trust in America’s postal system,” Smith said.

Powell said Glenpool residents who believe they may be victims should contact him at the police department 918-322-8110. Anyone else should contact their local Post Master.