A Braintree postman has been jailed for 16 months after keeping more than 40,000 items that should have been delivered.
Graham King stored mail in his loft but a court heard how it was discovered when his ex's new partner found a stack of letters and parcels in the house they used to share in Colchester.
King, 47, was told by a judge he had "eroded public confidence in the sanctity of the mail".
Recorder David Altaras added: "You opened large quantitles of mail and stole from it any items of value which you considered worth stealing and it's also clear that you went out of your way to steal items which could be of value from delivery rounds other than your own."
King's barrister, Lorna Glover said he was "genuinely remorseful, ashamed, and confused" about why he had acted out of character.
King, a postman from December 2002, pleaded guilty to four charges of theft between November 2006 and November 2013.
He admitted stealing 35,538 unaddressed, or junk, items at Braintree sorting office between April 23, 2011 and September 17, 2013.
He also admitted stealing 6,539 postal packets between November 1, 2006 and November 8, 2013 and stealing a postal packet containing gift cards and vouchers worth £40 on or about December 19, 2012.
King, 47, formerly of Easterford Road, Kelvedon, now of St Peters Street, Lowestoft, Suffolk, admitted another charge of stealing a postal packet on November 8, 2013.
He was jailed for a total of 16 months.