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SACRAMENTO, CA - A serial mail thieflinked to a string of mailbox burglaries in Placer County told postal inspectors he traded the stolen mail for methamphetamine.

Richard Lee Gray, 56, admitted stealing mail from variouscommunity mailboxes throughout Placer County after a search of his mobile home and car in Foresthill on Tuesday turned up burglary tools and more than 50 pieces of stolen mail, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.

Postal inspectors said more than 20 mailboxes had been broken into since January in Auburn, Colfax and Foresthill.

The investigation focused on Gray after a surveillance camera recorded a man stealing stealing mail from community mailboxes belonging to the Alpine Meadows Property Owners Association in Colfax.

The video showeda tall, heavyset man driving an older-model beige Honda with a missing rear hubcab on the passenger side.

According to an affidavit supporting the search warrant, the vehicle description led investigators to Gray's mobile home.

Gray told postal inspectors he was, indeed, the man in the video. He said he routinely sold stolen mail for money and traded it for meth.

Gray was convicted of a similar crime in Riverside County in 2001 and served four months in prison.

Gray made an initial appearance in federal court Wednesday and isbeing held without bail in the Sacramento County Jail pending further proceedings.

by George Warren, GWarren@news10.net

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