Locking mailboxes may discourage thieves
A wave of mail thefts has the Quincy postmaster urging people to consider converting to more secure locked mailboxes.
Mail theft has been an ongoing problem in the area for some time, said David Peters, postmaster. However, this spring it has become an almost weekly occurrence, Peters said.
Most recently, a resident found discarded mail on the side of the road. Someone had gone into mailboxes and removed the mail, Peters said.
The postmaster wants residents to consider a more secure option to the traditional mailbox. Secure mailboxes, with a small slot in the front and a keyed door at the back, can keep mail thieves out of your mail.
In fact, the post office has installed centralized box units, called CBUs, in four residential neighborhoods in Quincy. The units hold dozens of individually locking mailboxes.
The Quincy post office has installed the CBUs at no cost to the users, said Peters, who would like to put up even more in town.
However, the post office requires that all customers in the proposed areas agree to use the CBUs, otherwise it is not an efficient use of carriers’ time, the postmaster said. If a group of neighbors can all get on board, the residents just need to contact him, Peters said.
Among the CBUs installed was one at a mobile home park adjacent to Quincy High School. Previously, nearly 60 gray mailboxes, lined up in two rows along the sidewalk, serviced the mobile home park. Postal carrier Diana Cameron was finding everything from beer cans to dead snakes in the mailboxes. Kids walking along the sidewalk would put up all the mailbox flags or remove the mail from a box and move it to another, said Cameron, a carrier for more than 25 years.
The CBU has solved all those problems, she said.
“I wish everybody had these boxes,” Cameron said.
If neighbors don’t want a shared CBU, individual locking mailboxes are available at local stores, Peters said. The postmaster warns against buying older styles off of Internet websites. The mail slots on some of the older styles are wide enough and low enough for hands to get in, Peters warned.
Peters added that carriers are required to deliver packages that don’t fit into mailboxes to the door if the residence is within a half mile of the mailbox. If residents do not want packages left on their doorstep, they can request so in writing to the post office, which then will keep it on file, he said.
The locking mailboxes are getting more popular, especially as more people are hit by mail thieves, Peters said.
“It’s just peace of mind once you get it,” he said.
Peters also advises postal customers to help fight mail theft by reporting any suspicious people who may be opening mailboxes and going through mail. Get to know your neighbors — and the vehicles they drive, he said.
“If it isn’t them going through the boxes, don’t hesitate to call (the police),” Peters said.
— By Jill FitzSimmons, email@example.com