Three people who are allegedly part of what authorities described Wednesday as a "massive theft ring" were accused of stealing thousands of Amazon packages and dumping hundreds of them outside Oklahoma City.
They face 15 counts of felony possession of stolen property and embezzlement, the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office said in a press release. More charges will likely be filed, authorities said.
Nearly 600 packages that the group is accused of stealing were supposed to have been delivered by Christmas, but were discovered on New Year's Eve roughly 30 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.
Two of the accused were described as contract drivers for Amazon. The truck used by one of them belonged to the third person, who also faces charges of possession of methamphetamines, the sheriff's office said.
Investigators traced the stolen packages to the group after finding a garbage bag at the dump site with an address and a receipt from a local store, authorities said.
Inside a home a few miles from the site, authorities found thousands of undelivered packages, some of which were still wrapped on pallets.
"Packages were stored throughout the home in almost every room and filled the storm shelter," the release said.
The packages have been returned to Amazon and will be re-delivered, the sheriff's office said.
On Monday, the sheriff's office said tracking information showed that the items left an Amazon location and were supposed to have been taken to a U.S. Postal Service facility for delivery, the sheriff's office said.
"Someone had removed the items they wanted and discarded the rest," the sheriff's office said on Facebook. "(Apparently the thief isn’t much of a reader...the books that were being delivered were left behind)."
The post added: "If you’re missing a package, please don’t call us. We are working with the USPS and have reached out to Amazon, so someone should contact you soon."
Several users responded by saying their missing Christmas gifts had most likely wound up with the stolen cargo.
In a statement Wednesday, an Amazon spokeswoman thanked the sheriff's office and told customers to report delays to the company.
In Alabama, a similar discovery was made in November, when a FedEx contractor is alleged to have dumped about 400 packages in a ditch.
The driver, who was fired the day after the discovery, was arrested Dec. 10 on suspicion of cargo theft.
Blount County Sheriff Mark Moon said the man "was very sorrowful for what he had done and just admitted that he ... was having some hard times in his life and just made poor choices.”