A spree of postal break-ins occurred between Nov. 29 and Dec. 2 in Sharp, Fulton, Stone and Independence counties.
Fulton County Sheriff Walter Dillinger said that robbers broke into at least six post offices in Sharp, Fulton, Independence and Stone counties.
Sharp County Sheriff Dale Weaver said they have reason to believe the local break-ins started in Evening Shade and then Ash Flat, leaving Glencoe as the criminal's last stop, all in one night.
It is also believed that the post offices broken into in Stone and Independence counties are connected to these break-ins. Stone and Independence counties were hit the night before.
Postal Inspector Daniel Medrano, who's been a postal inspector for 18 years, said there were seven post offices broken into in the area. Another post office, which Medrano said he believes to be a separate incident, was broken into Dec. 2 in Patterson, in Woodruff County.
"This is the first time I have seen anything like this in my 18 years," Medrano said. "I think the hard times could have something to do with it."
Weaver said they believe the motive for the break-ins was to steal medicine or checks that are sent through the mail. Weaver said Medicaid and Medicare along with other companies often ship medicines out around the first of the month. Government and other kinds of checks are also sent out at the same time.
Weaver said the people who committed the crimes could also have been seeking holiday money that flows through the mail this time of year.
According to Dillinger, the thieves pried open six or seven rental mail boxes and one locker in Glencoe, but it is not known if there was any mail or valuables in them.
"We can't verify that anything was taken," Medrano said. He also said that the thieves were most likely after checks.
Dillinger said he suspects all the break-ins were done by the same people.
"They used a blunt object of some sort to pry open the boxes," Dillinger said.
According to Weaver, the suspects broke the locks on the mail boxes and tried taking what was inside. Weaver said, fortunately, as far as they can tell, all of the boxes opened were empty in Evening Shade and Ash Flat. Weaver said some of the locks they attempted to break, they were not successful at.
If anyone has any information regarding these break-ins, they are urged to contact the Sharp County Sheriff's Department at 870-994-7356 or the Fulton County Sheriff's Department at 870-895-2601.
Medrano said the Postal Inspection Service is offering an award of up to $10,000 for any information that could lead to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the break-ins. He said anyone with information can call 877-879-2455 and choose option two.