By Sophia Hall

WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBS 2/WCBS 880) — A veteran Long Island postal worker has been accused of stealing from his own customers, the same people who gave him holiday tips, year after year.

And as CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reports, the lifted mail then went on sale.

“I think it’s terrible. I think it’s terrible. He should go to jail,” Garden City resident Paulette Mineo said.

WCBS 880 Reporter Sophia Hall gets details on the scam from the arraignment

“I’m glad he chose circulars. It would have been a disaster if he’d chosen Social Security checks,” resident Sally Richmond added.

Police said the letter carrier charged with grand larceny was not after checks, but after circulars, stealing customer coupons.

The circulars mailed from JC Penney and other Garden City retailers were intended for loyal shoppers who rely on big bargain offerings mailed to select credit card holders.

Thomas Tang, a postal employee since 1994 and based in Corona, Queens, is charged with pilfering more than 7,000 discount coupons between October and January and then putting up bundles of the stolen circulars on eBay for bidding, from his home computer in Baldwin on Long Island.

“He might package five or 10 and put them on eBay and people would bid on them — 10 for $35 or $40 — a profit for him,” Nassau County Police Det. Vincent Garcia said.

Tang’s pregnant wife and sister rushed out of the courtroom as a judge held the mailman on $10,000 bond. Prosecutors had asked for five times that but would not reveal how much the letter carrier allegedly made off the scheme.

“They’re alleging Mr. Tang took some circulars. I’m not going to minimize it but it is a little strange, not your typical case,” attorney Robert Parker said.

The U.S. Postal Service responded by saying: “Cases of mail being stolen are rare. Repercussions can result in firing or jail time, because it is a federal crime. The investigation is ongoing.”

“How dare he. Isn’t that stealing? Isn’t that a federal offense if you are supposed to receive it in your mailbox?” Bernadette Rodriguez said.

But some of the letter carrier’s friends and family said stealing circulars is a victimless, petty crime — even if it was carried out by a mailman.

Tang has no prior arrests. His lawyer said Tang was hired in 1994 and passed his background check with flying colors.

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