Lakeland residents stunned by mailman's arrest

Lakeland, Florida -- A 48-year-old mail carrier is under arrest and investigators say he stole several government checks from people living along his route.

Franklin Barnes, 48, who worked out of the downtown Lakeland Station Post Office, was arrested Thursday and charged with theft of mail and government property in the form of government checks. Barnes was investigated by the FBI, U.S. Postal Service and the IRS for months.

MORE: Read the criminal complain

One victim who had their mail swiped lived at Lakeland Estates, which is a mobile home community for people 55 and older. The victim had relocated to Michigan so the property was empty at the time detectives say Barnes was delivering mail there.

On Friday, Tony Whitehead says he knew something was a little off at Lakeland Estates where he lives because the mailman they all know as "Frank" didn't stop by. "I kind of wondered about him today because the mail came a little late than usual," he said. "I have heard nothing about any checks disappearing or anything like that."

An undercover agent also says Barnes sold him several stolen checks and was so bold that he drove his official mail truck to meet him, dressed Postal Service work uniform.

Whitehead says he's stunned over the allegations. "That just don't seem like Frank," he said.


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