Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Brandon trucker admits to theft of diamond rings from U.S. mail

TAMPA — In the spring of 2012, four diamond rings went into an Express Mail box bound for Huntington, N.Y.

Instead, one wound up in a Brandon pawnshop and a truck driver whose company contracts with the U.S. Postal Service to transport mail kept them three weeks, according to a federal court document filed Tuesday.

Kyle Joseph Hebenstreit, 41, faces a criminal charge of opening mail without authority, punishable by up to a year in prison.

He has not formally entered a plea. However, a signed plea agreement states that he loaded mail into his trailer at the Valrico post office April 17, 2012, before carrying the Express Mail parcel, insured for $2,000, into the cab of his semitrailer truck.

"Once all of the Postal Service employees had cleared the area, the defendant opened the parcel and took the four diamond rings," the document states.

He pawned one ring for $100, he told agents from the U.S. Postal Service's Office of the Inspector General, who confronted him in January.

He also admitted theft of up to 13 baseball and football collector cards, including three stolen around Christmas as he sat in his truck at the Tampa Logistics and Distribution Center while Postal Service employees loaded the trailer, the plea agreement states.

Investigators reported finding three rings at his Brandon home, along with 10 collector cards.

Hebenstreit was a contract driver for Midwest Transport Inc. in Tampa. On his Facebook page, he calls himself a "former" post office truck driver.

He was never a Postal Service employee, said spokeswoman Enola C. Rice.

The Postal Service delivers more than 160 billion pieces of mail each year, she said, calling theft incidents "extremely rare."

"We maintain the sanctity of the mail and public trust through our law enforcement agencies — the Postal Service Office of the Inspector General and the Postal Inspection Service — that investigate postal crimes," she said.

In August, a fill-in rural carrier was criminally charged after admitting to dumping 2,000 mail pieces she didn't have time to deliver. Ana Maria Villarreal pleaded guilty Sept. 4 to unauthorized destruction of mail and is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 20.

Brandon trucker admits to theft of diamond rings from U.S. mail 09/17/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 11:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Chasing 125: Bucs hope to hit rushing goal more often


    Ever so often, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter pulls back the curtain a bit and shares some of the stats that matter to him most as a coach.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
  2. Two Boca Ciega students arrested on charges they brought gun to high school football game


    PINELLAS PARK — Two Boca Ciega High School students were arrested for having a loaded semi-automatic handgun with them at a Friday night football game at Pinellas Park High School.

    Two Boca Ciega High School students were arrested for bringing a weapon on school property on Friday night at a high school football game at Pinellas Park High School.
  3. Bucs-Jaguars was NFL's lowest-rated ESPN game since 2005


    It is just the preseason, and it is the Jaguars, but Thursday night's Bucs-Jags preseason game earned a 1.6 rating on ESPN, which is the lowest-rated preseason game (excluding NFL Network) in 12 years, according to Sports Media Watch.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, left, talks with coach Dirk Koetter during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
  4. Crash at U.S. 19 in Pinellas Park kills one, shuts down traffic


    PINELLAS PARK — A man is dead after a crash between two cars at the intersection of U.S. Highway 19 and 70th Avenue N just after 7 a.m. Saturday.

    Pinellas Park police are investigating the death of a man during a crash on U.S. 19 early Saturday. (Pinellas Park police)
  5. Tropics watch: The latest on Harvey and what systems could hit Florida


    While Eastern and Central America monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Harvey, two tropical disturbances are moving through the Atlantic.