SALT LAKE CITY — A former postal worker pleaded guilty Tuesday to using postal service keys to steal mail.

Jacob MacFarlane, 36, of Draper, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count each of mail theft and possession of stolen postal service keys. He was indicted on a number of counts of theft of mail and theft of stolen postal service keys after being accused of taking mail from U.S. Post Office drop boxes throughout Salt Lake County. He was also charged with bank fraud, but those charges were dropped in exchange for the man's plea.

According to the plea agreement, the man will pay full restitution.

In total, MacFarlane told investigators he stole mail on approximately 25 separate occasions. More than 500 pieces of mail were recovered from the man's vehicle and home.

The man would scour post office mailboxes for gift cards and cash, primarily on Sunday nights when he knew the weekend mail hadn't been picked up.

Postal inspectors say MacFarlane admitted to stealing a number of gift cards, including at least 10-15 he gave to his ex-wife as a form of child support payment. The woman said she had no idea any of the cards were stolen until authorities contacted her friend who had used one on a joint purchase at Kohl's.

A Salt Lake City couple had mailed the $30 gift card to a family member in California and reported it stolen after it never arrived.

The indictment shows MacFarlane stole at least three personal checks, each amounting to $50.

MacFarlane told postal inspectors he had kept one of the postal service's keys he used in the alleged thefts after his resignation in April 2010. He stole a second key from a sister who is still employed with the U.S. Postal Service.

The man will be sentenced May 17. 

Emiley Morgan Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam