A postman has been jailed for nine months for stealing mail.
Former soldier Kevin Carter had earlier admitted taking greetings card-type mail from a sorting office in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.
Carter, 47, of St Margaret's Road, Knaresborough, took 20 items a week between October 2004 and May this year. He was jailed at York Crown Court.
The court heard he was trapped by an investigation involving covert cameras and "dummy" postal packets.
John Harrison, prosecuting, told the court Carter was caught on camera "flicking through mail waiting to be sorted".
He admitted two charges of mail theft and one of attempted theft.
Judge Jonathon Durham Hall QC told him: "You have a long and distinguished Army record and, but for these offences, you have been and are a valued individual.
"Gift cards are sent, conveying sentiments, expressions of love and endearment.
"You opened up these cards with the calculation that they could contain cash."
The judge said Carter had been employed in a position which was held in high esteem by the public.
"Postmen accept one of the most respected positions in civic life, and have more respect than lawyers and judges," he said.
Carter, married for 17 years, left the Army after seeing active service in Northern Ireland, to work for a supermarket, before becoming a postman more than 11 years ago, the court heard .
He resigned after the investigation uncovered the thefts, and has since worked as a hotel night porter.
Defending, David Bradshaw said Carter could not explain why he had stolen the cards.
"It wasn't through greed, it wasn't through wanting money," he said. "His financial situation is stable."