A former FedEx delivery driver was charged on Friday for allegedly dumping hundreds of packages into a ditch rather than bringing them to the intended recipients. The packages were dropped in Blount County, Alabama the week before Thanksgiving. Authorities told TODAY that the driver was remorseful for his actions, and is cooperating with their investigation.
Blount County Sheriff Mark Moon told reporters that a 22-year-old driver working for FedEx as a contractor dumped about 400 packages into a ditch on the side of the road between Nov. 17 and Nov. 23. He now faces five charges of cargo theft, and was taken into custody on Friday. Moon said that the man had recently suffered a death in his family and acknowledged that he had made some bad decisions. He said: “It appears that he was very sorrowful for what he had done, and just admitted that he had had – was having some hard times in his life and just made poor choices.”
The packages were discovered the day before Thanksgiving. Moon said that 153 of the packages had their barcodes intact, and were therefore linked to the original customers. Another 247 packages were illegible, but the value of the goods in the ditch was estimated at $24,000.
The driver said that he had dumped the packages on five separate occasions on five days, but that he himself never stole anything. Moon said: “He told our investigator he didn’t take anything, he just unloaded them because he didn’t want to deliver them.” FedEx fired the driver the day after the missing packages were discovered.
“Hopefully this will be one of these very hard life lessons that he will learn from and be able to move forward in his life,” Moon said. “That’s what we really want.”
Cargo theft is a Class D felony in Alabama – the lowest level of felony in the state. It is not clear if the former driver has an attorney who can speak on his behalf yet, and there has been no speculation on what kind of sentence he might face.
This story only adds to growing fears about online shopping as the U.S. continues to deal with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a report by Business Insider, the U.S. has a surplus of job openings but not a “labor shortage.” Instead, unhappy workers are looking for ways to leverage their employers into providing better working conditions, better pay and better benefits. That includes many of the workers in the growing online shopping fulfillment industry, as described in this profile by CNBC.