A United States Postal Service employee has been charged with stealing credit cards and stimulus checks from mail on his routes — including some in Montclair.

Parrish Brookins, 29, of East Orange, has been charged with one count of mail theft by a Postal Service officer or employee. He was arrested Thursday and then released on a $50,000 bond after a videoconference hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jessica Stein Allen in Newark federal court.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for New Jersey, from January to July of this year, credit cards addressed to individuals in Verona and Montclair were stolen on or about the same dates Brookins was delivering mail on those routes. He's accused of activating the cards to make fraudulent purchases.

The U.S. Attorney's Office also alleges that from at least March to September of this year, Brookins stole stimulus checks from individuals on his route, and then provided the checks to others for fraudulent purchases.

In a criminal complaint, U.S. Postal Service Special Agent Paul Kim says that as part of an investigation, agents placed a hidden camera in Brookins' delivery vehicle. On or about Sept. 17 and 20, the camera captured footage of him apparently stealing U.S. Treasury Department checks from mail he was tasked with delivering, the complaint says.

If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine.

Montclair police told Montclair Local in late November that reports of stolen mail had increased steadily over the past several weeks. Checks placed in Montclair post office mailboxes were being stolen and cashed, Sgt. Terence Turner said. The incidents were not confined to any one United States Postal Service location in Montclair, he said.

Incidents of stolen mail can be reported to a hotline set up with the Postal Inspectors Office, at 877-876-2455.

— Louis C. Hochman