Willow Springs man said package of heirlooms shipped USPS from Poland never arrived, was auctioned

ByAnn Pistone and Jason Knowles WLS logo
Friday, May 10, 2024
Suburban man says USPS auctioned off lost package of heirlooms
A Willow Springs man said one of the packages he shipped via USPS from Poland never arrived at his home, and was auctioned off without his knowledge.

WILLOW SPRINGS, Ill. (WLS) -- A local man was heartbroken after he shipped a precious package from Poland that never arrived, and then was auctioned off by the U.S. Postal Service.

Most people don't know that packages that never reach their correct destination can be auctioned off by USPS.

"I was so depressed, I was devastated to be honest with you. That's my, that my memories are gone," Jacek Chaba said.

Chaba had mailed precious items he may never see again; family heirlooms passed down over generations.

"It was a lot of-- some china stuff, real china, silver stuff, some spoons, knives, even from WWII because it was passing family to family, and also it was a lot of stuff when we call in Poland, but this is stuff that's handmade, and you can't buy in the store," he said.

Chaba said he mailed the packages through the United States Post Office from Poland after his grandmother died there in 2019. One of the packages made it to his home in southwest suburban Willow Springs, the other did not.

"And it's gone. And did I cry? Yeah, I'm 52 and I cried. It was really painful and it's still painful," Chaba said.

He filed a missing package claim with the USPS and said his package was clearly labeled and addressed but went months with no luck. Eventually someone else, not the post office, contacted him.

"All of a sudden one of those days on June 20, 2020 I got a text message from the woman," he said.

That woman messaged him on Facebook saying she had the purchased Chaba's package at a USPS auction. The post office can auction off unclaimed packages after 30 to 60 days.

She sent back placemats, pictures and his passport.

"The most expensive stuff from my memory and of course priceless, again, was silver, from WWII because my grandma had this and nice covers, blankets," he said. "Crystal vase, so some of them they were very expensive."

Even though years have passed, Chaba still wants answers from USPS. He said even if his address was no longer visible on the box, he doesn't understand why postal workers didn't forward it to his address which was on documentation and his passport inside the package.

When the I-Team contacted USPS, a spokesperson directed Chaba to file an additional claim through its independent oversight agency, The Office of the Inspector General of USPS. Agents there can investigate allegations of mail theft and discarded mail.

Chaba did that and got an email response telling him to file yet another claim with the U.S. Postal Service Consumer and Industry Contact Office. That agency issued an apology but did not offer anything further.

"I still can't let these items go from my memories, I can't I can't," Chaba said. "I don't know how it is for you and your family but for me and my family, when it's a celebration like again, Christmas, Easter or here Thanksgiving, even though we didn't celebrate in Poland, to me it's very special moments in my life so then I like to connect with my family who are not with me."

Chaba sued USPS over the missing and then auctioned package, but two lawsuits were dismissed. He said that package had a tracking number but he did not have insurance, so this is a good reminder to purchase insurance when shipping anything of value.