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Keeping Vandals and Thieves from Your Community Mailboxes


No one wants stolen mail or broken mailboxes. While curbside mailboxes are often the targets of mail thieves and vandals, other types of mailboxes aren’t immune. This includes mailboxes in apartment complexes, multi-family communities, business mailboxes, and more.

Did you know that mail thieves are looking for checks and arrow keys? This type of mail theft is rising in recent years, and unfortunately, postal workers are often targeted. Thieves will fraudulently try to cash checks (which are often sent to businesses and property managers) while arrow keys can open parcel lockers and sometimes centralized mailboxes.

While the postal service is working to solve this issue, there are many things that you can do to prevent mail theft in your community or on your commercial property.

To Avoid Attracting Thieves and Vandals

Here are some key things that you can do to make your property and mailboxes less attractive to thieves:

  1. Invest in More Secure Mailboxes
  2. Utilize Lighting
  3. Place Your Mailboxes in A Well-Traveled Place
  4. Use Cameras (And Signs!)
  5. Remind Tenants to Collect Mail Regularly
  6. Utilize a Neighborhood Watch Program

1: Invest In More Secure Mailboxes. If you have curbside mailboxes or outdated centralized ones, this can be an invitation to thieves. Most curbside mailboxes don’t have locks, so if this is the case, consider upgrading.

If you manage a property with just a few tenants and don’t have room for centralized mailboxes, consider upgrading the locking models. Many are designed to hold more mail than normal mailboxes, which is great for businesses. Locking, wall-mounted models are also available.

If you have the space, centralized mailboxes are great for security. Placed inside a strong aluminum cabinet, each customer compartment has its own lock. A master lock allows a postal employee to deposit mail to many compartments at once. These mailboxes can stand alone, mount on a wall, or recess into a vertical surface. Better yet, most come with parcel lockers for packages.

2: Utilize Lighting. Of course, locks alone won’t stop the most determined of mail thieves, and if an arrow key has been stolen from a postal worker, that may give thieves access to your centralized mailboxes. How do you prevent this?

Good lighting is a great, and fairly inexpensive way, to deter mail thieves. Lighting increases the chance of a thief getting caught, so they’ll avoid well-lit and open areas as much as possible.

There are many great ways to add light to your mailboxes. Some centralized types use kiosks, and adding lighting to your kiosk is simple. If your mailboxes are in a lobby, be sure to keep the lights on at all times, and don’t leave your light switch easy to access by the public. Even positioning mailboxes under your streetlights can be a big help, if you’re using curbside models.

3: Place Your Mailboxes in a Well-Traveled Place. Of course, where you place your mailboxes can make all the difference when it comes to preventing theft. If your mailboxes are near a community office or near security, they will be far less susceptible to theft. The same goes for those near busy roadsides, community entrances, or front-facing locations that are often patrolled by police. Avoid installing mailboxes in dark, obscure, or hard to find areas.

Placing your mailboxes in such a location is also required by the USPS, as delivery must be quick, safe, and easy. No matter where you place your mailboxes, be sure to keep them within a block of all tenants, and to allow wheelchair access. Keep all obstructions away from your mailboxes at all times and ensure that access is open 24/7.

4: Use Cameras (And Signs!) If you choose to install security cameras around your mailboxes, let everyone visiting the area know that they’re working and in place. Don’t make the location of your cameras obvious, and your signs should clearly state that a camera is in use.

Additional signs can warn would-be thieves about the penalties for mail theft, which is a federal crime. Mail theft can result in imprisonment and a hefty fine.

5: Remind Tenants to Collect Mail Regularly. No matter which type of property you have, it’s a good idea to remind tenants to pick up mail regularly, perhaps daily, to reduce the chances for mail theft. Theft is most likely to happen at night, when fewer people are out, so add occasional reminders to check mail before the end of each day. This is especially true for larger or business mailboxes, which may contain more packages and checks.

 Signs are also useful for reminding tenants of this simple duty, and will also help to deter thieves, who will see less of an incentive to damage and steal from mailboxes on your property.

6: Utilize a Neighborhood Watch Program. For residential properties such as apartments or condos, consider a neighborhood watch program. These programs allow residents to work with law enforcement to keep crime, including mail theft, out of communities. If mail theft is a looming issue, and you manage a community or homeowner’s association, talk to your community members about starting such a program.

Better yet, these programs allow the posting of signs in participating neighborhoods, warning thieves that the residents are watching for mail theft and vandalism. This will help to deter thieves, who may see your community as a less desirable target. Keeping your community and mailboxes in good shape will also project the image that your neighborhood isn’t an easy target. Be sure to replace broken locks, doors, and other parts of your mailboxes immediately to ensure smooth USPS delivery and customer satisfaction.

Upgrading Your Mailboxes? Look No Further. At National Mailboxes, we will help you find the right mailboxes to help you prevent mail theft, provide convenient delivery for your tenants, and cut down on future maintenance costs. Simply contact us today if you have any questions about which mailboxes are right for your commercial property.