MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Investigators used a planted gift card to try to catch a thief at an Eagan post office.

The 52-year-old defendant, from St. Paul, was charged with one count of mail theft in connection to thefts that occurred in the weeks prior to Christmas in 2014.

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The criminal complaint says the United States Postal Service Special Agent interviewed three Eagan residents who reported sending Target gift cards in the mail in November of 2014 – all of which never made it to their destinations.

The special agent conducted an “integrity test” by putting a $5 Target gift card in a postal collection box in the second week of December in 2014. That card was eventually used at an Inver Grover Heights Target on Dec. 14, 2015, along with other stolen gift cards and a Target RedCard belonging to the defendant.

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The complaint says the defendant told investigators he was a custodian at an Eagan post office, and he eventually admitted to stealing three gift cards from envelopes in the facility. He claimed the cards, amounting to about $250, were found loose in a collection machine.

The defendant said he used the cards to buy baby items and food.

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He could face up to three years in prison if convicted.