MILWAUKEE, WI— Taking a bat to a mailbox, hitting it with a brick, or setting off a firecracker or pipe bomb inside may seem like fun to some rambunctious teens. However, it’s not a rite of passage - it’s a criminal act that hurts our neighbors and our community.
“Mailbox vandalism increases during the summer months, and we need to encourage everyone to be aware of any misconduct that may occur in their neighborhoods”, said Milwaukee Postmaster Kim Quayle. Mailboxes are protected by federal law, and crimes against them and the mail they contain are considered a federal offense. Violators can be fined up to $250,000 or imprisoned for up to three years for each act of vandalism.
Damaged mailboxes have to be replaced, costing the owner time, money and inconvenience. Meanwhile, the mail cannot be delivered. Many people depend on receiving monthly checks and other financial support through the mail, so doing without their mail negatively affects their lives. And some damaged mail cannot be replaced – family photos, letters from sons and daughters serving in the military overseas, and other priceless keepsakes that mean so much to the recipient.
Mailbox vandalism affects all of us. We don’t feel as secure in our neighborhoods and communities. Property values can drop as a result of vandalism and other crimes. And prospective new residents may think twice about moving here knowing that our young people have such callous disregard for the property of others.
“If you have teenagers at home, talk with them about the downside of damaging mailboxes, and vandalism in general,” added Quayle. “Remind them of the penalties, the impact on the victims, and that they can get hurt or killed in the process. The Postal Service doesn’t take these crimes lightly because of the severity of the potential consequences.”
If you discover someone tampering with your or your neighbor’s mailbox, get a description of the person(s), a description and license plate number of any vehicle, then immediately report this information to the police.
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A self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation, 150 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. With 32,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government, usps.com, the Postal Service has annual revenue of more than $67 billion and delivers nearly 40 percent of the world’s mail. If it were a private sector company, the U.S. Postal Service would rank 29th in the 2010 Fortune 500. Black Enterprise and Hispanic Business magazines ranked the Postal Service as a leader in workforce diversity. The Postal Service has been named the Most Trusted Government Agency six consecutive years and the sixth Most Trusted Business in the nation by the Ponemon Institute.