• France's news in English

French postman guilty of stealing 13,000 letters

AFP/The Local · 5 Mar 2015, 09:56

Published: 05 Mar 2015 09:56 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Perhaps this explains where those missing birthday cards got to.

A French court has handed down a six-month suspended sentence to a "compulsive" postman who stole some 13,000 letters and stored them secretly in his attic for more than a decade.

The retired postman, 62, from north-eastern France, was also fined €4,000 ($4,500).

His employer, La Poste, has agreed to return all the stolen letters, the oldest of which dates back to 2001.

After years under suspicion, the unnamed postal worker was caught red-handed in 2011 when La Poste laid a trap by planting a letter filled with a powder that stained his hands and clothes.

The police then found his haul in the attic: 13,694 letters -- many of which were never opened -- and some 6,000 postcards.

His lawyer David Jeanmaire told AFP the man suffered from a "compulsive hoarding disorder".

"He told police he was attracted by the colour and shape of certain letters, like a magpie drawn towards shiny objects," said Jeanmaire.

"If it was just for stealing money, he would have opened everything, and above all, he would have got rid of the letters."

Jeanmaire said the postcards were a way for the postman to "travel by proxy".

"His behaviour was a little curious," conceded a lawyer for La Poste, Sandrine Crucy, though she said he still had material concerns and used the money to fill up his car.

Story continues below…

More than 550 customers were listed as claimants in the trial in the town of Thionville, although the court only awarded damages to a small group totalling around €900.

Since 1790, postal workers in France have taken an oath to scrupulously protect the items they carry and the secrecy of correspondence.

In December, more than 23,500 undelivered letters were found in the home of a postwoman in Gironde in the Bordeaux region. She is currently facing trial.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

French claims that Jungle camp is empty are rubbished
Photo: AFP

Reports from the scene say scores of migrants are still in the area of the Jungle despite French authorities claiming "mission fulfilled."

Kidnapped Riviera millionaire left tied up in car boot in Nice
Photo: AFP

Head of luxury Cannes hotel has been found alive after being kidnapped in Nice on Monday.

Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Photo: Panoramas/Flickr

... and it's tenants in the smaller apartments that get hit the hardest. Could you be paying too much?

France takes baby steps to make life simpler
Photo: AFP

... including extending the ridiculously short time limit for registering a new baby.

IN PICTURES: Calais Jungle camp goes up in flames
All Photos: AFP

Migrants leave behind a scorched camp as they are moved to locations across France.

French expats in UK suffer Brexit abuse
French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

French nationals no longer feel at home in the UK, ambassador says. But Brits in France have been greeted with sympathy since the referendum.

Six to go on trial in France over topless Kate photos
Photo: AFP

The topless pics sparked fury among the royals.

France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President François Hollande in his job.

Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available