Billions rely on FedEx annually to act as Santa Claus and deliver their presents and packages during the holiday season. While almost all of them arrive on time, according to FedEx, some parcels inevitably are delayed or lost.
Authorities are investigating a FedEx driver who took at least six trips last month to dump around 450 packages in northern Alabama, Blount County Sheriff Mark Moon said. Moon, who described the case as “the FedEx debacle,” said on Facebook the mass property theft affects hundreds of residents in and out of Blount County. A motive for the driver’s actions remains unclear.
“This will not be an easy or fast case to close,” he said Tuesday. “I am asking for patience from our citizens as our investigators work through this case.”
The driver, who has been questioned by authorities but not publicly identified, was fired from FedEx, company spokesman Dave Hill told The Washington Post. The company said it regrets “the inconvenience this situation has caused” and is working to recover and resend the packages to the intended recipients.
“The security of our customers’ shipments is a top priority and we are committed to treating our customers’ packages with the utmost care,” Hill said in a statement. “In addition to cooperating with law enforcement, we have reviewed this situation and can confirm that the individual involved is no longer providing service on behalf of FedEx Ground.”
The trouble down by the ravine comes as mail carriers and shipping companies face a holiday package rush a year after limited staffing and resources brought many services to a crawl. That was specifically the case with the U.S. Postal Service, whose officials have vowed not to repeat the mistakes of the disastrous 2020 season this year.
“We are ready, so send us your packages and your mail, and we will deliver timely,” Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said during a meeting of the USPS governing board last month.
FedEx delivered 3 billion packages in the United States during the 2020 holiday season, according to a company report. In a four-week span between Nov. 22, 2020, and Dec. 26, 2020, packages were on time between 94 and 97 percent of the time, FedEx said.
The mystery in the Yellowhammer State began last week, when a sheriff’s deputy near the small town of Hayden, Ala., reported what appeared to be hundreds of “boxes of assorted sizes [that] have been thrown off a ravine.” The packages were found in a ravine about 30 miles north of Birmingham.
“Hopefully we will have some answers soon,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook on Nov. 24.
But even as FedEx trucks from across the South arrived on the scene to collect the wet and misplaced parcels, answers were hard to come by. Pictures posted to the Facebook account of the sheriff’s office showed FedEx workers coming out on Thanksgiving to help sort through packages in varying conditions — some destroyed, some dented.
Then, on Monday, investigators were able to identify the driver and bring the person in for questioning, Moon said. It’s unclear when the driver allegedly made six trips to the ravine to dump the packages. The sheriff confirmed that there are about 450 individual victims in the case.
As news of a potential FedEx Grinch began to spread outside Alabama, the sheriff addressed the media attention the incident has received.
“There have been many questions coming in, mainly from media, regarding the FedEx debacle,” he said on Facebook.
Hill, the FedEx spokesman, said the company appreciates its customers as they go through the package recovery process.
“Where possible, recovered packages are being delivered to the intended recipients,” he said. “In the event of a damaged shipment, we will make every effort to work with the affected shippers to reach a resolution.”