A FedEx driver who dumped hundreds of packages into a ravine in Alabama “is no longer providing service” with the company, a FedEx spokesman said on Thursday.
“The security of our customers’ shipments is a top priority and we are committed to treating our customers’ packages with the utmost care,” the spokesman, Jim Masilak, said in a statement, adding that FedEx was cooperating with law enforcement.
On Nov. 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 multiple trucks to collect the packages, the sheriff’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 recovery effort showed men clearing unopened packages, mangled cardboard boxes and various items from a steep wooded area. Some of the items appeared to be canned goods and soft drinks. Many of the boxes loaded into trucks appeared to be smashed or damaged.
Mark Moon, the Blount County sheriff, said on Monday that the FedEx driver had been questioned, but he did not identify the driver. It was also unclear whether the authorities planned to file criminal charges against the driver.
Sheriff Moon said the driver had dumped packages on at least six occasions, making FedEx the victim of multiple cases of theft of property.
“This will not be an easy or fast case to close,” Sheriff Moon said in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “Again, I am asking for patience from our citizens as our investigators work through this case.”
Mr. Masilak, the FedEx spokesman, said that, where it was possible, recovered packages were being delivered to the intended recipients. If the shipments were damaged, FedEx would try to work with shippers to reach a solution, he said.
“We got a package from the ravine delivered, even though the food was spoiled since it came a week after it was supposedly delivered, we were glad to at least get it,” Mika Martell LaMonte wrote in response to one of Sheriff Moon’s Facebook posts.
Some residents said they were missing electronics and clothing. One woman said she received someone else’s package and delivered it herself to the correct person.
Concerns about the safe delivery of packages are not new. More than 1.7 million packages are stolen or go missing 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 Freight Systems.
In urban areas, about 15 percent of all deliveries fail to reach customers on the first attempt because of package theft and other issues, like deliveries to the wrong house, transportation experts said. In suburbs and rural areas, porch pirates often follow delivery trucks and snatch just-delivered packages from homes.
On Wednesday, the police in Jemison, Ala., a town about 75 miles south of where the packages were found, announced that they had recovered about 20 FedEx packages that had been dumped in a wooded area along a road. It was unclear whether there was a connection to the packages in Blount County.