Local deputies, postal workers help catch 2 suspected mail thieves

The men were arrested in the Julington Creek area on Thursday

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Two South Florida men, suspected of stealing mail, were arrested in St. Johns County Thursday. An investigation by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office along with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service resulted in the arrests after the men were spotted in the Julington Creek area of St. Johns County.

Several people in that area told News4JAX they’ve dropped mail off at a nearby post office that never made it to its destination.

Deputies made contact with the two men when the vehicle they were in sped off. Deputies used a PIT maneuver to stop the car and arrest Darren Simmons, 28, from Miami and Anthony Kemp, 27, from Hollywood.

Inside the car, deputies said they found a stolen master mailbox key, gloves, mask, numerous items of stolen mail and a firearm.

One person who lives in the area, but did not want to be identified, told News4JAX they had multiple checks stolen from a Fruit Cove post office in November and December, including a $15,000 check that was fraudulently cashed.

Both suspects are charged with felony possession of personal information that was inside stolen mail envelopes.

In November, during a hearing before the U.S. House Oversight subcommittee, the postal service inspector general said mail theft is becoming a bigger problem.

“We’ve seen situations where groups of organized criminals are working together to recruit postal employees to steal from the mail and other things, so it’s become a bigger and bigger deal...and these cases have become much more complex,” U.S. Postal Service Inspector General Tammy Whitcomb Hull said.

In December, a former Jacksonville postal worker pleaded guilty to stealing mail. Also last year, at least three northeast Florida postal workers were robbed at gunpoint, including one whose master key was stolen.

For residents like Bill Gates, the reports of missing mail and violence against postal workers are concerning, and the arrest of Simmons and Kemp is welcome news.

“It’s certainly alarming,” Gates said, “But, I think that, you know, the post office, obviously, someone did a good job of tracking it down pretty quickly.”

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I-TEAM and general assignment reporter