July 15, 2010 

Release No. 10-715 

Lansing MI — Recent news stories have been reporting about the mischievous use of pop bottles now that summer is in full force. The U.S. Postal Service wants to remind residents that when pop bottles are used as pranks in a mailbox, there are serious repercussions.

Taking a bat to a mailbox, or hitting it with a brick, or setting off a firecracker or pipe or pop bottle bomb inside may sound like fun to some rambunctious teens. However, it’s not a rite of passage, OR “boys just being boys.” It’s a criminal act that hurts our neighbors and our community.

Mailboxes are protected by federal law, and crimes against them and the mail they contain are considered a federal offense. Violators can be fined or imprisoned 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.

The impact of 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. Remind them of the penalties, the impact on the victims, that they can get hurt or killed in the process, and that the Postal Service™ doesn’t take such crimes lightly.

If you have information on mailbox vandalism or mail theft in your area, report it to your local Post Office™ or to the Postal Inspection Service at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).

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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 direct support from taxpayers. With 36,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government, the Postal Service relies on the sale of postage, products and services to pay for operating expenses. Named the Most Trusted Government Agency five consecutive years and the sixth Most Trusted Business in the nation by the Ponemon Institute, the Postal Service has annual revenue of more than $68 billion and delivers nearly half the world’s mail. If it were a private sector company, the U.S. Postal Service would rank 28th in the 2009 Fortune 500.

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