We’ve all seen the classic coming-of-age movies where some neighborhood ne’er-do-wells take a baseball bat to a mailbox- and while it’s all in good fun in the movies, it is, unfortunately, something many people deal with.
So what can you do about mailbox vandals, and how can you protect your mailbox? Here is what I discovered!
Mailbox Vandals In 2023
Mailbox vandalism is the act of defacing, damaging, or otherwise harming a USPS mailbox or collection box. Mailbox vandalism is a federal crime that can come with fines of up to $250,000 and 3 years in jail. If your mailbox is being vandalized, you can use the US Postal Inspection Service website to report the damages and call your local police department. There are many companies that sell products to deter and catch mailbox vandals.
If you’re at a loss for what to do about mailbox vandals in your area, be sure to keep reading so you can protect yourself from future vandalism and get justice for any harm that’s already been done!
What Are Mailbox Vandals?
Mailbox vandalism is defined as the act of harming, defacing, or damaging USPS residential mailboxes or blue collection boxes.
This includes activities such as knocking over the mailbox, throwing firecrackers into/at the mailbox, scratching or denting the mailbox, and much more.
A mailbox vandal, then, is someone who engages in these types of activities.
Additionally, mailbox vandalism is often thought of as a less-than-serious offense by rowdy teenagers, however it is a serious crime with serious punishments.
Mailbox vandalism is considered destruction of federal property, which comes with fines of up to $250,000 and jail time of up to 3 years in a federal corrections facility.
It’s important to remember that accidentally scratching your neighbor’s mailbox while backing out of your driveway is very different than malicious vandalism.
If you’ve accidentally damaged a USPS mailbox, the best thing to do is not to panic!
You can reach out to your neighbor to let them know and come together to help repair the mailbox, or if you’ve accidentally damaged a USPS collection box, you can reach out to your local post office.
Damaged mailboxes can absolutely be a serious issue as it prevents mail from being delivered and sometimes means the destruction of the mail itself, however, if the damage was not intentional you will not be considered a mailbox vandal.
What Do I Do If My Mailbox Is Vandalized?
If your mailbox has been vandalized, there are several courses of action available to you.
First off, it is always recommended that you call your local police department- having a record of the vandalism helps to ensure evidence is gathered properly in case you go to court.
It’s also imperative that you submit a vandalism complaint with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), which can be done on this page of their website.
After submitting the vandalism complaint on the USPIS website, you should receive a confirmation email with a reference number for your case.
This reference number will be critical in case you need to add more information about new vandalism occurrences, which you can do on the UPSIS website here, as well as if you end up taking the case to court.
If you’d prefer to speak on the phone with someone, you can also call the USPIS at 1-877-876-2455.
Once your report has been filed with USPIS and your local police department, you’ll be kept up to date about any major breaks in the ongoing investigation and will be contacted for a formal statement.
If your mailbox is continually vandalized and law enforcement is not moving as quickly as you’d like, you can also protect your own mailbox using various methods.
How Do I Protect My Mailbox From Vandals?
There are a few different courses of action you can take to help defend your mailbox from vandals, each ranging in price and aggression.
The least expensive and aggressive method you can try is by using Label 33 from the post office.
Label 33 is an adhesive-backed label that you can get for free from your local post office that describes the criminal penalties for tampering with a mailbox.
This option is mostly a deterrent, although it is only effective if the vandal stops to read the label prior to destroying the mailbox and if they take it seriously.
This option is not recommended for those who have had their mailbox repeatedly vandalized; while it never hurts to try, it will likely be ineffective and frustrating.
A slightly more aggressive approach to protecting your mailbox would be to invest in cameras.
While this again is more of a deterrent to vandals than actual protection, it can be very powerful when used correctly.
You can purchase discreet Ring doorbell cameras or perimeter cameras on Amazon, or you can purchase slightly more expensive, motion-detected cameras.
Cameras with motion-detectors built in can also come with features such as motion-detected lights and alarms, which are sure to scare away most mailbox vandals while also supplying you with solid evidence to build a case.
The most serious protective option available to you to help protect your mailbox from vandals is to purchase or build an “indestructible” mailbox.
One such indestructible mailbox you can purchase is the MailBoss mailbox, which can be found here.
This particular product is made of 14 gauge, electro galvanized welded steel and weighs about 40 pounds, making it a particularly difficult thing to damage.
MailBoss also sells matching posts and mounting plates if you’re really interested in going the extra mile.
Other people suggest building your own indestructible mailbox, unique to your circumstances and budget.
There are suggestions about putting your mailbox on chains, rather than a post, so that it hangs like a swing and absorbs damage with the potential of returning damage, as well.
Others have tried putting cement-filled, steel posts on either side of their mailbox to create a sort of force field around the mailbox itself.
Ultimately, while you have several options to protect yourself and your mailbox from vandals, every situation is unique and requires different levels of help- you’re the best judge of what you need, and what your budget is!
Mailbox vandalism is the act of harming, defacing, or damaging a USPS mailbox or collection box.
This is a federal crime that’s punishable by fines up to $250,000 and three years in a federal corrections facility.
If your mailbox is being vandalized, you should call your local police department and file a complaint with the United States Postal Inspection Service.
Once there is a record of the vandalism, you are encouraged to take steps to protect yourself and your mailbox, which can include installing cameras and reinforcing your mailbox.