SPRING HILL — Bob Kanner thought it was odd when a postal employee wheeled out a huge bin and told him to dig through the mountain of mail to find anything addressed to him.
But what struck him as even stranger on Tuesday was that he was allowed to rummage through everyone else's mail without any supervision at the post office on Aviation Loop near the Hernando County Airport.
"If I had been a con artist, I could have gotten rich," said Kanner, recalling the U.S. government envelopes that appeared to contain Social Security checks and tax refunds.
"No one asked me for any identification or anything,'' he said. "It just wasn't right."
Hernando County postmaster Bob Carleton agreed, saying that the incident was the result of a procedural error. "There was certainly no excuse for that," said Carleton, who vowed it would not happen again.
The impromptu postal free-for-all began on April 27, when Postal Plus, a shipping delivery service, closed its doors at 11186 Spring Hill Drive.
Kanner, a Spring Hill resident and former Spring Hill Fire Rescue commissioner, has received his business mail there since 1994. The store, which served as an independent contract station for the U.S. Postal Service, sorted mail into individual post boxes once it was delivered.
Kanner said he was given just three days' notice by Postal Plus of the impending closing, and he was told that his mail would be forwarded to the Postal Service after that.
Carleton said his office was given no warning that Postal Plus was closing. "Our responsibilities end once it's delivered to its destination," Carleton said. "From there it's up to the agent to make sure it gets into the hands of the addressee."
It was not clear what led Postal Plus to close its doors. A call to the office indicated that the phone number has been disconnected.
Carleton said that as far as he was aware, Kanner and other former Postal Plus customers only had access to about 200 pieces of mail on Tuesday. Kanner disputed that, saying he looked through at least 2,000 pieces of mail.
"Obviously, we're going to take a good long look so that this kind of thing doesn't happen again," Carleton said.
Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or 848-1435.