Protecting Yourself from Mailbox Theft and Vandalism
Rural area mailboxes are vulnerable to vandalism because they are usually isolated, located on public thoroughfares, and frequently not visible to the box owners from their homes. City residential mailboxes are vandalized to a lesser degree.
Mailboxes are considered federal property, and federal law (Title 18, United States Code, Section 1705), makes it a crime to vandalize them (or to injure, deface or destroy any mail deposited in them). Violators can be fined up to $250,000, or imprisoned for up to three years, for each act of vandalism.
Postal Inspectors recommend these actions to protect your mailbox and any mail that may be inside it:
- Immediately report theft, tampering, or destruction of mail or mailboxes to your Postmaster, Postal Inspectors online, or call 1-877-876-2455 (press 5).
- Obtain Label 33 from the Postal Inspection Service and affix it to your mailbox. The sticker warns that willful damage to mailboxes and theft of mail are crimes.
- Keep your mailbox in good repair, and make sure it’s properly installed. This may help prevent theft of the mailbox itself.
If you have information on mailbox vandalism, call the Postal Inspection Service to report it. Your cooperation helps apprehend violators. You may provide your information or complaints to your local postmaster or your nearest Postal Inspector.
Remember mailbox trolls will go through mailboxes to look for anything they may believe is valuable including your tax returns. If you are expecting packages, funds, checkbooks, credit cards, debit cards, etc., check your mailbox frequently or have a trusted friend do it for you.