When about 60 customers on Amanda Turner's Spring Hill mail route complained that their mail had been tampered with and items stolen, the Postal Inspection Service did a test.
Investigators sent out a mailing that included an envelope with a Target gift card.
Turner took the bait, and stole the gift card.
Confronted with the evidence, she confessed to stealing the Target gift card and other gift cards.
This morning, Turner, 27, was sentenced to three years of probation on a charge of theft of mail by a postal employee.
She became at least the sixth postal employee to be sentenced in Tampa federal court in the past year for stealing mail. Five received probation; one was sentenced to a year and a day behind bars.
Turner and her attorney told U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew that she was suffering from substance abuse problems when she stole the mail. She has lost her four children, ranging in age from 2 to 9, to state custody and foster care.
A probation officer told Bucklew that Turner successfully completed a drug treatment program after testing positive for drugs while out on bail.
"Last year was a really hard year for me," Turner told the judge. "I was going through a lot. I had a drug-related problem. I'm better now."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Palermo told Bucklew that Turner lost her $17-an-hour job at the post office because of the theft.
Bucklew warned Turner that if she doesn't succeed on probation, if she uses drugs again, she risks being thrown in prison and permanently losing her children.
"We're all rooting for you to do a good job here," she said.