The U.S. Postal Inspection Service

Post Office Burglary

When postal inspectors arrived at the scene of a suspicious fire in Loretto, Virginia, they found the community’s small post office burned to the ground. An investigation revealed that the real crime had taken place a day earlier, and the fire was meant to destroy the evidence.

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This is the scorched wreckage of the post office. The burned, open safe is visible in the center of this photo, just below the yellow caution tape.

On June 17, 1997, three men used a hammer to open the safe and steal stamps, money orders, and the money order imprinting machine. They used the machine to forge more than 60 money orders, totaling over $40,000, and cashed them in and around Washington, DC. Postal inspectors broke the case when a check-cashing outlet reported a suspicious postal money order with its receipt still attached. The criminals were quickly arrested and jailed.

Money order with date June 18, 1997 and ZIP code 22509
The stolen postal equipment was used by the criminals to create this money order with the date (June 18, 1997) and ZIP code (22509—Loretto, Virginia), which linked it to the crime.