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Hundreds Fall Victim to Mail Theft in the Ozarks

WEBSTER COUNTY, Mo. -- Around 300 people have fallen victim to mail theft in the Ozarks. Three suspects are behind bars after using a vehicle marked with a "U.S. Mail " sticker on the back they made themselves using sticker sheets with letters on them.
WEBSTER COUNTY, Mo. -- Three people are in custody suspected of mail theft.  They appeared in Webster County court today.

Around 300 people fell victim to the crime.  The suspects were using a vehicle marked with a "U.S. Mail" sticker on the back that they made themselves using sticker sheets with letters on them.

"Luckily the bank has given us back our money," says Victim Clarissa Dull.  "But it could have turned out a lot worse.  I live off the road, my parents live there, I never dreamed of somebody taking our mail."

Clarissa noticed something suspicious was going on after someone wrote a $283 check to Walmart in her name.  She fears that's not all that was spent.

"I'm worried because there are still two missing checks," Dull says.  "I don't know where they're at."

28-year-old John McReynolds, 28-year-old Sandra Hilbrenner and 23-year-old Klysta Sartin are now behind bars for the crime after authorities searched their home on January 9 and found piles and piles of mail. 

The three suspects were going from one mailbox to another stealing people's mail, and in some cases, their money and identities.

The Webster County Sheriff's Office along with the Marshfield Police Department and US Postal Inspectors uncovered the ring of mail thieves leading to potential identity and monetary crimes.

"They wouldn't take all the mail," says Webster County Sheriff Roye Cole.  "They'd take what interested them, and some of the things we saw wouldn't necessarily harm a person except the identity aspect of it."

Sheriff Cole says he's notified all the nearly 300 victims and adds that identity theft is currently the largest crime across the nation, including here in the Ozarks.

"Know what's coming," he says.  "Pay attention to finances and know when they're coming and know when they should arrive.  And when it's not there, start asking questions to get to the bottom of it.  The sooner we get to it, the better the chance of doing something with it."

Victims are just hoping nothing like this happens to them again.

"Everybody makes choices," says Dull.  "Some choices are good, some are bad.  We need to think about the choices we make.  I think they have made some bad choices and I think they should do the time, they did the crime."

U.S. Postal Inspectors are assisting with the investigation. 

The Webster County Sheriff's Office wants to make it clear that the three suspects are in no way affiliated with the U.S. Postal Service.

Right now, all three suspects are behind bars facing multiple charges including forgery and conspiracy to commit trafficking in stolen identities.

Hilbrenner is additionally charged with unlawful use of drug paraphernalia (meth).

Webster County investigators tell us John McReynolds has faced multiple forgery charges in the past.  He was also found guilty of first degree involuntary manslaughter back in 2000.

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