Super glued mailbox, not just a prank, but a federal law violation

OKEECHOBEE — On Monday morning an Okeechobee woman filed a report of mailboxes in her neighborhood being sealed closed with super glue sometime through the night.

According to an incident report by Deputy Robert Feldman, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), at 8:27 a.m. on May 21, he responded to the 7200 block of Northeast 11th Lane in regard to a criminal mischief complaint.

Upon his arrival, Deputy Feldman met with the complainant who stated that sometime during the night someone used super glue on her and her neighbors’ mailboxes, sealing them closed. The complainant was reportedly unaware of who or why they might have done this.

The report concluded that due to the inclement weather condition, it was not possible to lift fingerprints from the mailboxes. Deputy Feldman also attempted to make contact with the complainant’s neighbors in the area but none of them were at their homes.

According to the United State Postal Inspection Service, the federal law enforcement and security arm of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), rural area mailboxes are vulnerable to vandalism because they are usually isolated, located on public thoroughfares, and frequently not visible to the box owners from their homes. City residential mailboxes are vandalized to a lesser degree.

Mailboxes are considered federal property, and federal law (Title 18, United States Code, Section 1705), makes it a crime to vandalize them (or to injure, deface or destroy any mail deposited in them). Violators can be fined up to $250,000, or imprisoned for up to three years, for each act of vandalism.

If you have information on mailbox vandalism, call the Postal Inspection Service to report it. Your cooperation helps apprehend violators. You may provide your information or complaints to your local postmaster or your nearest Postal Inspector.

Postal Inspectors recommend these actions to protect your mailbox and any mail that may be inside it:

• Immediately report theft, tampering, or destruction of mail or mailboxes to your Postmaster. Or click here to report it to the Postal Inspectors online, or call 1-877-876-2455 (press 5).

• Obtain Label 33 from the Postal Inspection Service and affix it to your mailbox. The sticker warns that willful damage to mailboxes and theft of mail are crimes.

• Keep your mailbox in good repair, and make sure it’s properly installed. This may help prevent theft of the mailbox itself.

In addition to the mailbox itself, are the contents of the box, which if taken or destroyed can also result in a violation of federal law (Title 18, United States Code, Section 1708).

There is also the added risk of possible identity theft in today’s tech-reliant society, which is yet another charge.

According to the code, whoever steals, takes, or abstracts, or by fraud or deception obtains, or attempts so to obtain, from or out of any mail, post office, or station thereof, letter box, mail receptacle, or any mail route or other authorized depository for mail matter, or from a letter or mail carrier, any letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail, or abstracts or removes from any such letter, package, bag, or mail, any article or thing contained therein, or secretes, embezzles, or destroys any such letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail, or any article or thing contained therein; or

Whoever steals, takes, or abstracts, or by fraud or deception obtains any letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail, or any article or thing contained therein which has been left for collection upon or adjacent to a collection box or other authorized depository of mail matter; or,

Whoever buys, receives, or conceals, or unlawfully has in his possession, any letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail, or any article or thing contained therein, which has been so stolen, taken, embezzled, or abstracted, as herein described, knowing the same to have been stolen, taken, embezzled, or abstracted— Shall be fined under this title (up to $250,000) or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

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