How can I protect my mailbox?

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I feel so vulnerable… By: Damian GadalCC BY 2.0
I really enjoyed your recent post about mailboxes. It really made me wonder; how can I protect my mailbox?

I’ve noticed that many mailboxes in my area get destroyed by kids driving by and smashing them with baseball bats.

We have a plain old mailbox sitting on one of those wooden mail box perches shaped like a T. My neighbors all have the same set up, so I don’t really have much inspiration to draw from. Maybe a fellow reader has dealt with this issue? I’m open to any ideas, including links to any mailbox invisibility cloaks. -Tatem

Comments on How can I protect my mailbox?

  1. Build it up with brick? I’m not really sure about all the technicalities and whatnot but if kids are destroying mailboxes in your area, I’d consider building a brick mailbox. It can be DIY-ed and looks pretty sweet. Let ’em knock baseball bats against it.

  2. Brick is a good solution. If you can do metal art, creating a mailbox completely out of a heavy metal and burying it deep in the ground might work too, if you don’t like brick.

    • I got fed up with replacing mailboxes every other year or so , so I built a house for the new one out of 1″& 1/2 x 1″& 1/2 x 1/4″ angle iron and 1/2″ plywood mounted onto a 4″ x 4″ hollow steel post . On 12/3/14 I actually witnessed a man walking down our ( rural ) road , stop at our mailbox , open it and look in it for mail or whatever he could find . This was at 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon , broad daylight . I called 911 , they sent a Deputy out , he found the man , searched him questioned him – then gave the guy a ride to a friends house . All of this is what the Deputy told me when he returned to our house , and I “ASSUMED ” he made a report of all that transpired – found out later I was wrong , no report . 3 days later the mailboxes on our road were bashed in , retaliation ? , coincidence ? , who knows . If the officer would have done his job and made a report , I would have had something with the guys name and address to give to the USPS Postal Inspectors so they could investigate . Instead , I had to go to the police dept. to fill out my own report . They didn’t even have any record ( so they say ) of my 911 call – I did though , my call log through my computer . Unbelievable , to say the least – I had thought about calling our local news station to see what they thought about the whole thing – not sure just yet , don’t want to come up missing .

  3. In Michigan a lot of mailboxes get destroyed accidentally by snowplows in the winter. People have started building flat wooden walls or attaching large boards/planks against their mailboxes to protect them from the plows.
    If the protection wall is big enough, this might deter vandals with bats. However, it might encourage vandals doing graffiti.

    • For safety reasons, many communities require that the mailbox be weak enough to break away if a plow were to hit it.

      • Trying to protect my mailbox from the wave of snow that the plow throws, not the snowplow itself. Any snowplow driver who goes around accidently smashing mailboxes by hitting them needs to be re-trained at the very least. Anyone know of such shields?

    • Are there any snowplow shields for rural mailboxes that are commercially available?

  4. We have the snowplow problem in Maine, too, and many people have their mailboxes hanging from chains so if it gets hit it just swings.

    • Also, you can try a MailSwing… made in Maine! It will swing up and out of the way and returns to center automatically….

  5. I’ve never had to do this myself, so take it with a grain of salt. I read that some people in rural communities will take two mailboxes, one large one and one small, take the door off the small one, set the small inside the large, fill the space between with concrete (cement?), and let it cure (or whatever concrete does). You then set the mailbox up as before. Apparently it’s heavy as all get out, so you may need a stronger post (like a 4×4?) to support it. This will apparently destroy baseball bats.

    Here’s an eHow link that may explain better than I did, and another link with more suggestions:
    http://www.ehow.com/how_2285642_protect-mailbox-mailbox-baseball-destruction.html

    http://voices.yahoo.com/ways-stop-mailbox-being-vandalized-6212614.html?cat=6

    Hope that helps!

    • It is a great idea…and not to dissuade you, rather warn you to be careful:

      My neighbor (growing-up) got sued for this set-up since the teenager wielding the bat broke his arm…not sure what the outcome of the suit was but it was very stressful for him and his wife.

      • Oh FFS, that’s almost as bad as the burglar that sued a family because he got stuck in their garage while they were on vacation and had to eat dog food. IT’S YOUR OWN FAULT.

    • I’ve heard of this as well, but not sure of the legality. As someone else said above, some places require that your mailbox not to damage to snow plows. And, of course, some punk could sue you for hurting their arm when they try to vandalize your property.

  6. I can tell you how my mom dealt with it when I was a kid. She got a big steel post, sank it deep in the ground in concrete, and I guess she also got some kind of indestructible mailbox, because the next time those kids went mailbox-smashing, our mailbox was fine, but their bat was not. It was lying broken on the ground next to my mom’s handiwork.

    • I’d be careful of a steel post. Again, liability issues. If a car hits a skid and takes out your mailbox, and the post does damage to the driver, you may be held liable for creating a road hazard. I know here in Tx, a fellow used a piece of railroad rail set in concrete with a box welded from sheet iron – it was a thing of beauty to this ruralite’s heart too – and the state road inspector turned him in and they made him change it. I know the temptation is to “show those [email protected]#%$ kids a thing or two”, but you need to be certain of the legalities for your area. I will say, Rubbermaid makes a good mailbox that you can just pop back into shape after a hit. It locks too, which is something you may wish to consider since mail theft and identity theft are alive and well out in the sticks.

      • Let me tell the Rubbermaid mailboxes would be great if the brainless plow guys PAID attention to what they were plowing instead of taking out mailboxes. When will these plow people start being fined for stupidity?? After 5 CONTINOUS years of having our mail box destroyed by the town plow we demanded the town to replace it. Well they did with the cheapest wood/plastic one they could find and even placed it on the opposite side of the street next to our neighbors to “prevent” recurrence of the issue. Not 2 weeks later the whole plastic mailbox was ripped in half after a minor ice storm from the plow/sander. I say its definitely time for the destructor to be held accountable to the tax payers. NOT to mention its against the law to tamper with the mail. Doesn’t destroying the receiving property go in line with this??? Ok Vent finished Thank you!

  7. We used to have this problem all the time in my neighborhood. The folks down the street went through 2 or 3 before they finally found one that worked: a steel mailbox. They make them in the classic mailbox style as well as some funkier styles. You’ll want to set the mailbox post in cement.

    They’re not cheap, but that mailbox has been standing for 10 years now (and thankfully now that all their kids are out of high school the batting has stopped).

    • A steel mailbox is what my grandfather-in-law uses. He lives in a rural area, and while all his neighbors have had to replace their boxes many times, he’s never had to.

  8. You have to be very careful about doing things to reinforce your mailbox. If you do too much to protect it you may suffer for the effort. USPS guidelines state what you can and cannot do…and if some drunk moron takes out your box and ends up with part of the cement filled steel post in his belly you might find yourself in a civil suit.

    I’d suggest a strong box, with a break-away or cheap to replace pole. They make large format boxen that have cement liners to keep them from deforming.

    • I second this.

      Also, if you live in a deed-restricted community, you need to check your HOA guidelines. Some communities can and will cite you for doing anything differently with your mailbox. If your HOA won’t allow you to do anything differently, contact them about the problem. They’ll probably tell you, “Oh that’s horrible. If it happens, contact the police.” And then you’ll just have to hope no one hits your mailbox with a bat.

      If you DO catch the kids, take down details (and video/pics if you can) and call the police.

    • I would say that a ultra-strong mailbox that is specifically designed to LOOK like a normal mailbox might open someone up to a lawsuit. Some lawyer could argue that you had knowledge that the kids were going around hitting mailboxes, so you “baited” the kids with a normal looking mailbox that had the potential to injure them. You have knowledge that kids are doing something, you then take actions to deter this with the clear knowledge that your actions may result in seriously bodily injury to those kids. That is skating on thin legal ice.

      My suggestion would be to (if your local ordinances allow it) make a mailbox pillar or something out of brick. Brick is clearly visible as an ultra-strong building material, so if someone is dumb enough to take a swing at it, they would have prior warning. No one could accuse you of “tricking” someone into injuring themselves when the mailbox is made from an clearly strong material.

    • I just read the USPS guidelines and they don’t say what you have to use for a post, or what you can’t use. Pretty sure it is some other law that cover this at the state or local level. Although I don’t agree with it at all. If you get hurt committing a crime, it’s your fault and no one else’s.

  9. I think that there are a couple of ways you could go here.
    *Putting on my country-girl hat*

    Many rural homeowners in our area just give up on curbside delivery and get a post office box in town. On the down side, that’s a bit of expense and inconvenience, but if you regularly go into town anyway, it might not be so bad.

    If you are DIY inclined, you could build a mailbox enclosure.
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Do-it-yourself-Brick-Mailbox/#step1
    Or hire someone to build it for you. Some people like to get together and build a large enclosure for multiple mailboxes in one convenient spot. If you live on a loop road, you might talk to your neighbors about putting that together. You would need to consult the local PO about changing the delivery location.

    Another option is to hang the mailbox from a support brace.
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-yOUu0hyO_V0/UR5oxq6GkOI/AAAAAAAAXAg/5fT569Pc7Vs/s1600/Storm-proof+mailbox+-+close+up.jpg

    Or invest in a specially made swinging arm. Have to admit, this one looks so cool in action that you might attract more interest!
    http://www.ruralmailboxes.com/

    One solution that I’ve heard of is to simply make your mailbox easily detachable from the base. Put the box out for delivery in the morning, then take it in every night, after you’ve collected your mail.

    And finally, the “revengeful grandpa trick”: get a large mailbox and fit another, smaller one, inside of it. Fill the interior gap with quick setting concrete, kind of like a metal jawbreaker with a hollow center. When it is fully cured, mount that securely on your post, preferably also anchored in concrete. As Clyde once said “I love finding broken baseball bats next to my mail!”

  10. We had this problem in our old neighborhood. A lot of the neighbors used the solutions already mentioned, but we went the opposite way. I bought a cheap flexible plastic mailbox (not the brittle type – more like off brand Rubbermaid) and put it on a post that was a plastic sheath that sat over a short wooden post. You’re supposed to screw the sheath onto the wooden post, but we didn’t so that when it got hit, it just flexed and stayed intact. The mail carrier left a note once that it was wobbly, but when I explained that it was stable (because the wooden post wasn’t going anywhere) and why it moved a little, they were fine with it.

    I guess if the kids ever figured it out, they could have just taken the whole thing, but they never did. We survived a few years’ worth of frequent mailbox assaults.

  11. So first, if you can put up a camera or something to check the kids (check surveillance laws first!), this is actually a pretty serious crime.
    Mailbox damage laws: http://www.ehow.com/list_6461782_laws-mailbox-damage.html

    As far as the comment about “be careful about reinforcing” — there isn’t much in the guidelines about the TYPE of mailbox, only that your post needs to give in an accident.
    Mailbox Guidelines: https://www.usps.com/manage/know-mailbox-guidelines.htm

    You may want to ask your post office if you can just do a mail slot in your door. That’s what most people have in my area — mailboxes hung on the door or mail slots in the door.

  12. Honestly, when we were living out in the country, we got so tired of our mailbox getting destroyed that we just got permission from the post office to not even have a mailbox and got PO boxes in town. It wasn’t a big deal for us because we both worked in town, though it was an added expense. (And for some reason, it meant that we never got a new phonebook, even though there was obviously a house and driveway there, and the phonebooks were tossed in the driveways, not placed in mail boxes. Weird.)

    Some neighbors have brick enclosed mail boxes that seem to hold up well. I imagine they’re not cheap, and you may or may not be able to have one where you live. The post office can tell you, and the HOA if you are unlucky enough to have one of those telling you your business. Also, our down the street neighbor when we lived in the country did the cement mailbox inside a mailbox trick, including sinking the post (thick rebar) down three feet into cement at the bottom. It kept the kids from destroying his mailbox, but he eventually got a nastygram from the county telling him he had to remove it because it could be dangerous if a car hit it. And yeah, if a drunk hits your mega mailbox and hurts him little self, you can be civilly liable because your mailbox wasn’t standard.

  13. My parents solved this problem by building a wooden “house” that the actual mailbox sat inside. The protective house was made of lumber and we just popped the mailbox inside. We also did one for my grandma. the mailboxes have not been damaged since we got these!

  14. I’d put some type of paintball explosive mine with bright pink oil paint in it. The first one who destroys your mail box will have a nice suprise…
    (It’s not a real advice, it’s just mean and could get you in prison….I though I should clarify just in case…)

  15. I love reading these comments because the ONLY way I know about mailbox vandalism is through seeing it happen in movies. Which made me think of it as some sort of “urban legend.” But this is really truly totally a thing IRL! And also, clearly, super annoying.

    • Yeah, it’s a real thing…not sure what the point of it is. I guess it’s like cow tipping, which is another pointless country kid activity. (And also totally does not actually work.)

    • It is totally a real issue in many areas. Where my family used to live, mailboxes did get hit with baseball bats but that wasn’t the worst problem. Teenagers would also deliberately back their pickup trucks into them. I can understand the regulations saying that a post has to give if it is hit in case of an accident, but that leaves homeowners with little they can do (within the regulations) about people taking out mailboxes deliberately with vehicles. My parents decided to get a post office box after finding the car registration in a snow drift after the mailbox had been destroyed again.

    • I was just thinking the same thing, because living in the UK, this is not something that had ever, ever occurred to me. You are broadening my mind, OBH!

  16. I saw mailboxes advertised somewhere once that rotate up and away like a jousting target when they are hit. This might work as well.

  17. Make sure that if you go with brick or cement, the city/area allows it. My former city passed an ordinance disallowing people to build brick mailboxes within the city limits. We lived in the ‘burbs, so it didn’t impact us, but it’s something to consider.

    Also, maybe consider moving the mailbox a bit off the street if it’s convenient for you and your mailman? I’m imagining a more rural environment that the OP lives in, but if you pull it off the street and closer to your house, it may deter drunk teens who are hanging out of windows looking for the next box to smash up.

    On another note, if your box, or your neighbor’s, DOES become the target of vandalism, especially multiple times, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT. Our next door neighbor ran ours down once and blew ours up with firecrackers twice; we finally called the cops when he graduated to hubcap theft (why, I don’t know, they were the factory standards) and more severe vandalism, and having the dates, times, and what little we’d seen or heard helped out a lot.

  18. 1. If your local ordinance/county/city council/HOA allows it and you can spare the cash, use brick or stone. My new mailbox came with this when I bought my house and it has a concrete cover on top. Even an aluminum baseball bat would bounce off.

    2. If they don’t, look into break-away posts, rubber mailboxes, steel mailboxes, hanging mailboxes and all the rest that have been mentioned.

    3. You might want to see if you can set the mailbox back from the street a little. Knowing the PO, the answer will probably be no, but teenage sh*ts can’t hit what they can’t reach.

    4. DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT. Tell the police what little you can and see if you can get your neighbors in on it. The lame-ass line, “boys will be boys” is NO EXCUSE for this kind of destructive behavior.

  19. This probably won’t work for you, but growing up this happened where my Grandma lived (rural Northern MI) all the time. All the mailboxes were lined up in a row along the main road and kids would smash 10 at a time. One year I hand-painted pretty designs, flowers, hummingbirds, etc. all over the mailbox. Surprisingly, the next time the kids damaged the mailboxes, they smashed every one except hers, the pretty one at the end of the row. Hers never was smashed again and she had the same mailbox for 15 years. Go figure!

    • I was just thinking to myself, I wonder if the cheap, breakaway option is just making it more of a target, and just making it pretty would help? Some people are assholes, and some people will be assholes regardless, but if you’ve obviously put some time and effort into a piece of art, some of the assholes will be less likely to deface the art. Worth a shot I suppose!

  20. I’m not sure what the laws in your area are, but a lot of my parents’ neighbors put steel poles (taller than the mail boxes and anchored in concrete) on either side of the mailbox (or row of mail boxes). It wasn’t foolproof, but it lowered the frequency.

  21. Around here the big issue are snow plows and the guy on the town tractor mowing the ditches. Their response is “Tough.” If wasnt in a small town rural area, I’d get 25 feet of well casing, rent a cement mixer, get out the big welder…and…. well, you get the idea. Ditch mower gearboxes are a PITA to change.

    On a more useful note: around here swinging mailboxes are popular due to the snowplow issue. Have it out by the road during the day and swing it around away from the road after you get the mail. Kids won’t be able to reach it with the ball bat.

  22. Mailbox baseball used to be a big problem in my town, and my neighbor’s mailbox gets wrecked by plows on a yearly basis. I have seen the following solutions:

    Our family’s mailbox is mounted on a tripod of mountain laurel branches that my dad assembled, and isn’t attached to the ground. Before a big snow storm, we pick the mailbox up and bring it to the side of the house. We put it back when the roads are clear.

    I’ve seen one house with their mailbox mounted on a HUGE cast iron spring.

    I drive past a house that has their mailbox affixed to a giant lever with a rope attached. Presumably the mail carrier pulls on the rope to get the box within reaching distance, but otherwise it’s about 10 feet (three meters) off the ground.

    Lots of people around here just have the cheapest possible mail boxes and know they’re going to be replaced frequently.

    In my town, if your mail box got hit by a plow, they usually pay you for it if you complain.

    Other ideas: Stick an airhorn in your mailbox with the button facing oncoming traffic.

    If you have a tree near the road, hang the box from a tree. They can hit it, but it might hit back.

    Three feet before your mailbox, hang the biggest gong you can find, or maybe a giant wok or skillet. That’s got to be more fun to hit than a mailbox.

  23. My father-in-law did something a little mean but it worked. They went through 5 mailboxes in a year from people playing mailbox baseball. He got fed up and decided to build a new mailbox…out of a 1 inch think metal pipe reinforced with concrete. It was pretty funny hearing the first dumbass attempt to hit it after it was installed. Metal baseball bats make a great clang noise against a tube of concrete encased in metal ;).

    • My grandfather did the same! He lives in a university populated area and was sick of losing his letterboxes… he said he cackles now with glee everytime he hears a *whack* *whack whack whack* “ow!!!!!” 🙂 considering he is in his mid 80’s, this image fills ME with glee! Luckily we live in NZ where getting sued is not a problem at all. Some of these stories are ridiculous!

      • As an Australian I am glad I am not the only one thinking the sueing stories are nuts. How can that even be possible? It just blows my mind.

        • I’m an American, and it blows my mind. Yes, it is the reality that I live with, but it still makes me angry. Did you know that there have been instances where burglars have been injured while breaking into homes, either through their own clumsiness, the presence of a biting dog, or through someone shooting them, and they have actually sued for damages and won? It’s pretty disturbing. It actually makes me happy to know that there are parts of the world left where people aren’t sue-happy. Oh, Australia, if only you didn’t have so many spiders…:)

          • WOW that is crazy!!!! I’m sorry, but America just sounds so backwards sometimes. You can not sue individuals here in New Zealand and our judges would laugh at stupid criminals, not reward them! You can always move here, BlueCanary, not Australia… Hardly ANY poisonous spiders and we do not have snakes either 🙂 (Sorry Lauren haha, I still love Australia to some extent, I was even there two weeks ago! I just HATE spiders too)

  24. Growing up we had a little wooden mailbox that always got targeted, including people actually stealing it. The furthest it got was halfway up a little walkway that comes off our street.

    In the end, we got a light metal mailbox and secured it in with a borktonne of cement. The post is still flexible, so it will give way in an accident, but it’s not easy to pull out of the ground, and I’d imagine it should withstand a baseball bat attack too.

  25. We have something called an Armadillo Mailbox. http://www.armadillomailbox.com/

    It’s very sturdy. Several of my neighbors have them too. It’s been five years since they built a middle school up the street from my house and those little brats have never managed to damage our mailbox. They broke three porch lights on the house across the street, and skateboard in the middle of the road like idiots, but they can’t get into our mail at least.

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