A FedEx driver who dumped hundreds of packages in a ravine in Alabama “no longer provides service” with the company, a FedEx spokesman said Thursday.
“The safety of our customers ‘shipments is a top priority, and we are committed to treating our customers’ packages with the utmost care,” said spokesman Jim Masilak in a statement, adding that FedEx is cooperating with police.
On November 24, the Blount County Sheriff’s Office announced that 300 to 400 FedEx packages of various sizes had been found dumped in a ravine. By that evening, FedEx had sent several trucks to pick up the packages, the sheriff̵[ads1]7;s office said. Blount County, about 45 miles northeast of Birmingham, has a population of about 60,000.
The next day, on Thanksgiving, photographs of the restoration work showed men clearing unopened packages, broken cardboard boxes and various items from a steep forest area. Some of the items appeared to be canned and soda. Many of the boxes that were loaded into trucks appeared to be broken or damaged.
Mark Moon, Blount County Sheriff, said Monday that the FedEx driver had been questioned, but he did not identify the driver. It was also unclear whether the authorities planned to prosecute the driver.
Sheriff Moon said the driver had dumped packages on at least six occasions, making FedEx the victim of several cases of property theft.
“This will not be an easy or quick case to end,” Sheriff Moon said in a Facebook post Tuesday. “Again, I ask for patience from our citizens as our investigators work through this case.”
Mr. Masilak, the FedEx spokesman, said that where possible, recycled packages were delivered to the intended recipients. If the shipments were damaged, FedEx would try to work with shippers to find a solution, he said.
“We received a package from the ravine delivered, although the food was destroyed since it arrived a week after it was supposed to be delivered, we were happy to at least get it,” Mika Martell LaMonte wrote in response to one of Sheriff Moon’s Facebook posts.
Some residents said they lacked electronics and clothing. One woman said she received someone else’s package and delivered it to the right person.
Concerns about the safe delivery of packages are not new. More than 1.7 million packages are stolen or disappeared every day in the United States, according to an analysis for The New York Times in 2019 by José Holguín-Veras, an engineering professor and director of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Center of Excellence for Sustainable Urban Shipping Systems.
In urban areas, around 15 percent of all deliveries fail customers at the first attempt due to parcel theft and other problems, such as deliveries to the wrong house, said transport experts. In suburbs and rural areas, porch pirates often follow vans and snatch newly delivered packages from homes.
On Wednesday, police in Jemison, Ala., A town about 75 miles south of where the packages were found, announced that they had found about 20 FedEx packages that had been dumped in a wooded area along a road. It was unclear if there was a connection to the packages in Blount County.