Your mailbox is likely one of those things you haven’t given too much thought to. You know you collect your mail and potentially packages from it and that’s about it. But did you know that without proper security, your mailbox can be a prime target for theft? There has been a rise in mail theft incidents as of late, and anyone can find themselves a victim. Just imagine if your mail were to start disappearing, it means your private and important information could fall into the wrong hands, which could create a lot of stress and issues for you to deal with.
To ensure that you don’t have to worry about any of these problems, you must investigate how to secure your mailbox from theft. These top tips will provide you with all the information you’ll need to properly secure the mailbox.
Understanding Mail Theft:
Did you know that the term “mail theft” is a blanket term meant to describe a variety of different types of thefts? Theft of mail means taking or stealing any form of mail – bills, packages, postcards and so forth. There may also be the theft of the mailbox key itself, which is how criminals break into your mailbox. This kind of theft can lead to such fraud as financial, employment, identity and much more.
Physical mailbox theft means the box your mail is delivered to, and all too often this is a prime target for thieves. As the number of online shopping increases, criminals realize there are a lot of packages that can potentially be left in mailboxes that are of great value. Physical mailbox theft doesn’t refer to just packages though, it’s any item in the box or the box itself.
Mail fishing should also be mentioned, as this is when criminals steal debit, credit, and gift cards. Identity theft can be extremely serious as it means a criminal has stolen enough information about you that they can essentially assume your identity and start racking up financial expenses/charges and much more.
Anyone can be a target, but seniors tend to be more at risk. Some of the ways mailbox theft occurs are that criminals will steal from the carrier trucks, they may steal the postal worker’s key giving them access to the USPS collection boxes, and they may even go through garbage and recycling bins at a personal residence.
Mailbox types and their security features:
Nowadays there are several different types of mailboxes, so depending on where you live you will have one of these.
Traditional mailboxes are the style you see in television shows and movies and are a box located on the end of the driveway. This makes it easy for the mail carrier to drop items in it. A wall-mounted mailbox is still a mailbox but secured to the wall of a building or residence. Then there are locking mailboxes which are becoming much more popular. These are a bank of boxes, usually found in subdivisions and they all have a number on them. Each house is assigned a locking mailbox and given a key to it. Then there are parcel lockboxes that are just meant for parcels that don’t fit in the traditional locking mailboxes.
Choosing the Right Mailbox for Your Needs:
Which mailbox is right for you? This is something everyone should be asking. It’s all about finding the right security features and finding the right balance between convenience and security. You never want to give up one for the other, and there is no need. It’s also normal to want to factor in curb appeal and aesthetics so that your mailbox doesn’t take away from the beauty of your home.
Installing a secure mailbox:
Now that you’ve thought about the different options and figured out the one that may best match your needs, and has all the necessary security features, it’s time to think about positioning. The mailbox should be high enough off the ground that it’s simple to slip items into, but not so high that the postal worker or you are straining to reach it.
How you anchor the mailbox will be dependent on the type of material you are fixing it into. If for example, you are anchoring and screwing it to an exterior wall of your house and its brick, you need a special drill bit. If it’s not secured properly, a thief can easily remove the mailbox and take off with the whole thing.
When choosing hardware look for something high-quality, that is resistant to weather and has high durability. Should you start to see any issues with the hardware, it’s wise to replace it immediately.
Mailbox locks and keys:
The best way to keep your mailbox secure is with a mailbox lock, which means you’ll need to pick one that is tamper resistant. There are the basic lock and key type options but again think tamper resistant. Typically die-cast is the best option.
So, who gets the mailbox keys? This is another part of the security features. You want to be sure it’s only members of your household, or very close and reliable friends or family who get the key, and preferably not kids as they may not be as responsible as adults. If you are going away on holiday and you want to leave the key with someone, you run the risk of it being lost or copied so be careful who you pass it to.
Replacing locks and keys is possible, if necessary, but it’s a chore so it’s not something you want to deal with often. Should you lose your key, or have it stolen, the lock will need to be replaced immediately.
Enhancing Mailbox Security with Technology:
Not satisfied with the traditional mailbox lock and key. Worried that may not cut it, especially as you watch mailbox theft rise? You’re not alone in these thoughts and this is contributing to the increase in homeowners installing security cameras around the exterior of their property. A good-quality security camera that is visible to would-be thieves will act as a great deterrent. Not only that, but it can also provide useful footage should you be the victim of mail theft.
Another feature you can install are mailbox alarms, which are designed to go off should the mailbox be broken into or tampered with. Again, it’s about deterring criminals.
Smart mailboxes mean you’ll be sent notifications and you can set alarms so that you’re always on top of any potential activity. Many of these use companion apps for your smart device, so you can access the features from any place.
Preventing Mail Fishing:
Worried you may become a victim of mail fishing? There are some simple solutions for this problem too. The mail slot design can make it very difficult for a thief to reach the contents of the box, and the US Postal Service is starting to install anti-fishing slots across the country. Right now, these anti-fishing devices are only happening in high-risk areas, but this is a trend that could continue.
It’s important you only send things by secure envelopes and packaging and ensure anything being sent to you is using the same type of precautions.
Mail Delivery Best Practices:
You can also boost security by using the best mail delivery practices. These are simple tips anyone can follow and that are meant to limit your risk. First, try scheduling mail delivery if you are expecting a package or item of high value. Make sure you’re home and able to receive it in person. Packages left on a porch or front door are screaming to be stolen.
If you plan on being away on holiday or any length of time, mail forwarding and secure and professional holding services can be very useful. Be sure to give yourself enough time to set this up beforehand. Then there are alternate delivery options such as having a package delivered outside of normal business hours so you’re sure to be home, or even having it sent to an alternate location such as your workplace.
Working with Your Neighbors:
Thanks to the increased risk of mail theft, many neighborhoods are now working together to deter thieves from targeting their area. A neighborhood watch can be a great solution and can give homeowners a great sense of security.
It’s also important you share any knowledge, security tips and best practices with your neighbors. Keeping the whole neighborhood secure means criminals will likely give up and head somewhere else, where mail theft will be easier for them. And of course, any suspicious activity should be reported immediately as you never know what that tip could lead to.
What To Do If Your Mail Has Been Stolen:
What happens if you follow all these tips and make your mailbox more secure, yet your mail still gets stolen? It’s a horrible feeling, but the first step needs to be to report the theft to the authorities. There’s a good chance you weren’t the only victim, so your report can help to solve the case. This is why it’s so important to protect your personal information, however, if your mail has been stolen, you’ll need to contact all financial institutions or lenders for which the thief may gain information.
As for recovering lost or stolen items, unfortunately, the odds aren’t high. It can happen, and you may get lucky, but chances are the items are gone.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- How can I tell if my mailbox has been tampered with?
Carefully look at the lock, and the box itself. Do you see any scratches, dents, or any other damage? If so, it may have been tampered with.
- What are the best-locking mailboxes on the market?
Because technology is always advancing, it’s hard to state which is the absolute best. It’s a good idea to speak to a professional locksmith and get their advice on what’s the best and most secure locking mailboxes.
- Can I install a security camera focused on my mailbox?
Security cameras can be focused on anything you like. To ensure the best picture, look for a camera with a pivoting head that also has night-vision capabilities.
- How often should I replace my mailbox lock?
It’s not necessary to replace it regularly, but in certain instances, it should be done. If the mailbox lock is damaged, broken, or tampered with or you’ve lost the key – you’ll need to replace the lock immediately.
- Are there any legal restrictions on securing my mailbox?
It’s best to investigate any local bylaws and restrictions, but in most cases, there are no legal restrictions on the security of your mailbox when it’s on your property.
Mail Theft Prevention Checklist:
To make things a little smoother, use this handy mail theft prevention checklist. This will ensure you’ve covered all the most important steps.
- Assess and then address any potential mailbox vulnerabilities
- Be sure to upgrade your mailbox if it’s an older style and not secure
- Be sure to maintain the integrity of your mailbox
- Know when and who will be delivering your mail so you can keep watch
- Always be aware of suspicious activity and report it to the authorities immediately
It all comes down to proactive mailbox security. This means taking the proper security steps before you’re a victim of mail theft. It’s much easier to be proactive than deal with sensitive information and packages being stolen. Work as a community and neighborhood to keep the area safe and be open to new technology and be ready to adapt when necessary.
Need any further advice or assistance on any of your lock or security needs? Contact us here at Quickly Locksmith Miami on (305) 984-9922.