How To Stop Mail and Mailbox Theft
Mail Theft Is a Serious Problem
How to stop someone from stealing your mail.
Mail theft is a serious problem, and a serious offense. A victim of mail theft faces the loss of more than just everyday correspondence. They could miss important notices, financial information, checks, and perhaps even become a victim of identity theft. So what do you do to protect your mail? How do you stop a mailbox thief? Who do you call?
There are things you can do to protect your mailbox from a thief. Ranging from diligent routines and safe practices, to lockable mailboxes and alarms - protecting your mail can be easier than you think. And so can catching the mailbox thief.
If You Know Your Mail has been Stolen
If you already know your mail has been stolen - don't play around! Immediately contact the Postal Service and report it. No matter how high or low your expectations, report it and get it on record.
Mail theft is a Federal offense, and the USPS takes it seriously. You can contact them and file an online complaint with this link
or call them toll-free, from anywhere in the U.S. at : 1-877-876-2455
Be Proactive Tips - Before Your Mail gets Stolen
These proactive tips will help protect you from becoming a victim of mailbox theft, and, reduce the opportunities for it to continue, if you suspect it is already happening.
- Don't allow your mail to accumulate. If you are going to be away for more than a couple days - arrange for a trusted neighbor to pick-up your mail, or ask your mail carrier to put a delivery hold on your mail until you return and retrieve it from the Post Office.
- Get to know your mail carrier's usual delivery time to your mailbox, and retrieve your mail as soon as possible.
- Make sure your mailbox door closes firmly and stays closed. An open mailbox, with mail in view, is an inviting target.
- Do not use your mailbox flag when you have outgoing mail. To a mailbox thief it's like a red flag saying; "Here I am, come get me." Your mail carrier will see your outgoing mail, even if the flag is not up. If possible, the best choice is to post your outgoing mail in an official USPS box, or at a local Postal Center.
What if you Suspect a Neighbor?
What if you suspect a neighbor, but have no proof? Do you stake out your mailbox? Bang on the door and accuse them? Spend a couple hundred dollars to set-up a surveillance system?
Or try a little psychology?
Strike up a conversation. Mention you think someone is messing with your mail. Ask them what they think you should do. Wonder aloud if you should call the FBI, since stealing mail is a Federal offense. etc. etc. etc. Watch their reaction to your conversation. If they are the nervous type - maybe their nervousness will give them away. At the very least you have made them aware that you are aware. And watching. That might be all it takes.
But if not...
- If appropriate, (trust and convenience), ask your neighbors to help you keep an eye on your mailbox.
- If you are an apartment dweller, speak to the super, (and doorman if you have one), make them aware of the problem and ask for suggestions.
But if you need more drastic measures to stop a mailbox thief...
Stop Mailbox Thieves with a Lockable Mailbox
The easiest way to stop a mailbox thief is with a sturdy lockable mailbox. It is not an inexpensive option, but is a a pretty surefire one. And there are a lot of styles to choose from. Just make sure to consider your normal volume of mail so you will know which sizes to consider.
Lockable mailboxes are available as: curb or roadside with traditional posts or stanchions, wall mount, column inserts, and pedestal styles.
Lockable Mailbox Styles
More Simple Methods to Stop a Mailbox Thief
1. Mailbox Chimes
Simple and easy to install mailbox chimes will let you know when your mailbox is being opened.
A small modular wireless transmitter fits on any kind of mailbox door, (even mail slots), and when the door is opened a signal is automatically sent to the wireless receiver in your house. Installation only takes about ten minutes - and no tools or wires.
Several companies make them, ranging around $45 or less. The transmitter is battery operated, and the indoor receiver plugs into a standard AC outlet. Typical transmitter range is about 300 feet.
An easy way to be alerted when your mail arrives, or warned when your mailbox is opened.
Here is an example of a Mailbox Chime on Amazon
2. Scare that Mailbox Thief Away!
Want a little satisfaction for about $10? Scare the heck out of that mailbox thief. Just put an inexpensive motion-sensor alarm in your mailbox, and as soon as they open the door - BAM! Up to 130 db's of ear piercing alarm will scare the pants off them, and alert you too. You might even be able to catch them in the act of running away.
These types of alarms are simple battery-operated gizmos that have an adhesive backing. Just stick it on the back of your mailbox, (on the inside), and when the door is opened and they stick their hand it - it will set-off an ear-piercing alarm.
Of course, you need to either be home to arm it AFTER you mail has been delivered, (don't want normal mail delivery to set it off), or talk to your mail carrier and ask them to push the button to arm the alarm when they deliver your mail.
Either way, it would be $10 well spent, and will almost certainly deter your mailbox thief from ever coming back for more of your mail.
Here is an example of a Motion Activated Alarm on Amazon
3. Video Monitoring to Catch Your Mailbox Thief
Of course there is also the oft suggested video surveillance of your mailbox. This process is complicated by several issues:
- The location of your mailbox - can you see it from a window? In which case you may be able to just use a video camera on a tripod - if you will be home to turn it on or off.
- Is it in a location where there are places to mount a remote video camera
- Do you have the necessary video equipment, or want to spend the money to get it
Ideally, a video camera with motion sensing capabilities is what you want. That way the camera only turns on when it senses movement - it is not recording all the time. If you want to use a remote camera set-up, then your choices would be video cameras like the ones hunters use for game tracking, or remote wireless cameras known as IP video cameras. (they have their own URL address and can be monitored over the web)