TOWNSEND — Two West Townsend residents are up in arms due to mailbox vandalism that occurred late last week, with both reporting the crimes to the police and the postmaster.
Mary Jane Kruger said her mailbox, which was attached to a post with 6-inch screws, was taken completely off the post and was later discovered in her neighbor’s yard.
“It was totally lifted off and removed from its pedestal,” Kruger said. “I called the police and they did come down and looked around for the mailbox, then my neighbor brought it over.”
Kruger said she did some research and learned that destroying a mailbox is a federal crime.
“If it’s kids they may think it’s funny, but what they don’t realize is they are committing a federal offense, punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to three years for each act of vandalism,” she said.
Russell Moore said he also found his mailbox, a custom-built one, destroyed by vandals on the same night.
“My stepson had made my wife a mailbox that looked just like a house, with windows in it and everything,” Moore said. “It was taken off the post and stomped on. It had only been up two weeks. It was her Mother’s Day present.”
He said the new mailbox was installed to replace his previous mailbox, which had been destroyed two weeks prior.
“I also reported it to the police and I’m reporting it to the postmaster,” Moore said. “I did get this one repaired, but there’s no reason for this type of destruction.”
Moore’s mailbox was made to open at both ends so the mail could be retrieved without having to step onto Route 119. Both the Krugers and Moores live on the busy state road.
Information from the United States Postal Service’s Web site states that rural mailboxes are vulnerable to vandalism because they are usually isolated, are located on public thoroughfares, and are frequently not visible to the box owners from their homes.
Mailboxes are considered federal property and federal law makes it a crime to vandalize a mailbox, or to injure, deface or destroy any mail deposited in them.
Postal inspectors recommend taking action 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, whereupon you will be asked to complete PS Form 1510, or PS Form 2016. These forms help the Postal Inspection Service determine whether your problem is isolated or is frequently experienced in your neighborhood.
An official warning label — Label 33 — can also be obtained from the Postal Inspection Service and affixed to your mailbox. The sticker warns that willful damage to mailboxes and theft of mail are crimes.
Kruger said she has requested the label for her next mailbox.
“It’s such a shame that people feel they have to damage someone else’s mailbox to have fun,” Kruger said.