Husband and wife jailed over mail thefts in Franklin County

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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Mo. – A husband and wife have been charged with stealing mail from homes across Franklin County. Sheriff’s deputies caught them after residents shared an important clue with detectives.

The suspects do not have jobs, investigators said. The stolen mail apparently provided them with the money to live on.

“Violated and just angry. We do the right thing out here and somebody else takes short cuts and break the laws and we’re the ones who suffer,” said Paige Hammer, whose mail was stolen.

The sheriff said residents in a number of communities were hit, including Gerald, St. Clair, Lonedell, Union, and Beaufort.

“It’s nerve-wracking,” said homeowner Ben Hammer. “We had our identity stolen. It’s that quick.”

David L. Bell and Rachelle Bell, both of St. Clair, were each charged with two counts of burglary and two counts of stealing. A neighborhood watch group captured a photo of a car, which led to the couple’s arrest.

“This is a prime example of law enforcement, the community working together,” Franklin County Sheriff Steve Pelton said. “I’ve been saying since I took office, if you see something, say something.”

The suspects were also charged with burglarizing homes. The sheriff said detectives recovered stolen tools and personal checks among other items.

“There was some payroll checks taken,” Pelton said. “There was a birthday card we recovered, had a check in it for a 13-year-old child; their birthday money.”

The Bells were found squatting in an empty home. Over the years, both have had run-ins with police.

“I think they should go to jail. It’s a federal offense,” Hammer said.

The sheriff said his department is working with the US Postal Inspector on the investigation. Other charges may be filed. Both David and Rachelle Bell remain jailed on $75,000 bond each.

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