A Birmingham postman who was caught "brazenly" opening greetings cards just yards away from his delivery office has escaped an immediate prison sentence.
Dean Cooper was given a 10-month jail sentence suspended for two years, ordered to do 250 hours community service and ordered to pay £498 costs by city magistrates.
Cooper (24) of Rymond Road, Hodge Hill, had previously admitted three charges of theft and one of delaying postal packets.
John Dove, prosecuting, said an investigation was started at the Kitts Green delivery office as a result of a high volume of of complaints by customers about not receiving their post and after a member of the public had handed in 94 greetings cards which had been opened.
Ironically, he said, Cooper was not the prime suspect but investigators noticed he was sorting an unusually high number greeting cards for his own walk and so he was kept under observations.
He was then seen to park his car close to the main entrance and start ripping open some of the cards.
His vehicle was later searched and 44 opened greetings cards were discovered as well as two Harry Potter first day covers and 881 items of undelivered junk mail.
When interviewed Cooper admitted stealing from the mail for about a week or two, that he had just become engaged and was worried about a mortgage and having to pay it off.
He also admitted dumping mail in bushes and said as far as the junk mail was concerned he had forgotten to deliver the items.
Cooper said he had also obtained a couple of hundred pounds. Bernard Porter, defending, said Cooper, who had now got a job as a driver, had acted in a stupid and naive way and was full of contrition.