PASCO COUNTY -- More than 900 people in four counties have fallen victim to mail theft. Pasco County Sheriff's deputies confiscated more than 3,000 pieces of mail, stolen they say, by 30-year-old Brian Chipman.
STORY: Massive mail theft affects hundreds
"They were stealing people's mail and either taking people's checks or they were using the information for other purposes," said Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco.
Deputies say they saw Chipman driving with his lights off through a Gulf Harbors neighborhood at 4:00 a.m., and pulled him over. Homeowner Jim Thompson watched from his window.
SEE ALSO: Man steals mail, PIN numbers from Pasco mailboxes
"I looked out and saw a car and a couple of people in dark clothes. Then I saw two cops cars come in and cordon off the street. Then I saw they were cops," said Thompson.
Thompson's neighbor was one of the victims, who told his fiance.
"He said someobody was taking mail out of the mailboxes, and he was worried about bank account information being stolen," said Darlene Brice.
When cops pulled Chipman over, they found hundreds of pieces of mail in his car. The license plate had been removed and was inside the car. Deputies discovered it was a delinquent rental car, and that Chipman was not authorized to drive it. The rental car company asked police to impound it. Chipman was arrested.
Later while in jail, deputies were listening to his phone conversation with his girlfriend, Shelley Johnson, which revealed even more.
"He said, 'I guess we need to have another bonfire,' which made clear there was more evidence that he wanted to burn, so we went out to his address and got it," said Sheriff Nocco.
Johnson was arrested as well and charged with evidence tampering.
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