After the recent discovery that her novelty fish mailbox had been ruined, Bernadine Seitz of Laketown Township is understandably fed up with mailbox vandalism and she’s speaking up about it.
“It was a cute mailbox, at least until now,” said Seitz, who learned that her mailbox, which was shaped like a giant bass, was damaged on the morning of Sunday, March 24. “My son came over and said, ‘Did you know your mailbox is smashed?’ No, I didn’t, but I knew it was good on Saturday because I saw it when I came back from church and it was fine. I was so upset. It doesn’t take much for an old person to get upset.”
It’s actually the second fish mailbox Seitz has owned in recent years that has met its end under suspicious circumstances. About four or five years ago, Seitz’s mailbox was simply stolen in the middle of the night. And now, the replacement mailbox was smashed, rendering it useless. Both mailboxes were worth about $150 each. Seitz doesn’t have any proof about who committed the crime but she believes it was probably teens or young adults.
“I think the kids just think it’s fun to hit the mailboxes but they don’t know the consequences of it,” she said. “The hardship it created for me … my son had to quick replace it. And some elderly people don’t have the money for this kind of thing. The thing is, it’s a federal offense, as far as I know.”
Seitz is correct. As mailboxes are considered federal property, it’s a federal offense to damage one.
According to the United States Postal Service, “willful damage to mailboxes or theft of mail are federal crimes [felonies] punishable by fine or imprisonment or both.” Violators can be fined and/or imprisoned for each act of vandalism. In most cases, however, mailbox vandalism cases are treated under state statutes regarding criminal damage to property. Jason Kamerud, Chief Deputy of the Carver County Sheriff’s Office, said most typical mailbox vandalism cases involve misdemeanor offenses, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
“It’s a fairly common call,” said Kamerud, who admitted that the nature of the crime can make the cases difficult to investigate. “They mostly happen in rural, more isolated areas than in town.”
If you are the victim of mailbox vandalism, Kamerud said it’s worthwhile to report the crime not just to the Sheriff’s Office but also to your post office (or contact 1-800-ASK-USPS). In the meantime, Kamerud advised keeping one’s mailbox in good repair and making sure it’s properly installed. Doing so may minimize some of the damage and/or prevent the mailbox from being stolen outright.
Seitz knows that the person(s) responsible for what happened to her mailboxes will likely never be found.
“Will I ever get justice? Maybe not. But maybe some parents will see this story and talk to their kids or maybe the people doing it will see this and think about what they’re doing,” she said. “My whole point for this is to keep somebody from really getting into trouble. (After all), this shouldn’t be going on.”
If you have information on this or any crime, contact the Carver County Sheriff’s Office at (952) 361-1212 (after hours call 952-361-1231). To remain anonymous, leave a message on the tip line at (952) 361-1224.
Contact Todd Moen at [email protected]