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FORESTHILL, CA- Agents with the U.S. Postal Service executed a search warrant Tuesday involving alleged mail theft in a broad swath of Placer County, one of more cases expected in the months to come.

"This case is emblematic of an ongoing problem," Eastern District U.S. Attorney Benjamin Walker said. "It is a widespread problem, has been for a long time, but it's been particularly a problem lately."

Postal agents in Foresthill searched through the mobile home where Richard Lee Gray lived with his mother. Gray is suspected of a series of mail thefts at up to 20 different locations in Placer County over a two-and-a-half month period starting in January.

Gray, who served time in a federal prison after a conviction for possession of stolen mail in 2001, apparentlytripped up when he was caught on a surveillance camera carrying mail from behind a cluster of mail boxes in Colfax, then leaving in a battered1990 Honda.

Investigators suspect he used an accomplice to cash a stolen check.

The U.S. Attorney said this is far from an isolated case.

"We also arrested an individual in Trinity County today in a similar case. We have a number of cases underway down in our Fresno Division," Wagner said, adding that the postal service is adding more agents to investigate cases in the Eastern District.

Stealing U.S. mail is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

"We can expect many more cases like this in the months to come."

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