Taking a bat to a mailbox, or hitting it with a brick, or setting off a firecracker or pipe bomb inside may sound like fun to some rambunctious teens. However, it's not a rite of passage, "boys just being boys." It's a criminal act that hurts our neighbors and our community.

Mailboxes are protected by federal law and crimes against them and the mail they contain are considered a federal offense. Violators can be fined or imprisoned for each act of vandalism.

Damaged mailboxes have to be replaced, costing the owner time, money and inconvenience. Meanwhile, their mail cannot be delivered. Many people depend on monthly checks and other financial support through the mail, so doing without their mail negatively affects their lives. And some damaged mail cannot be replaced—family photos, letters from sons and daughters serving in the military overseas, and other priceless keepsakes that mean so much to the recipient.

The impact of mailbox vandalism affects all of us. We don't feel as secure in our neighborhoods and communities. Property values can drop as a result of vandalism and other crimes. And prospective new residents may think twice about moving here, knowing that our young people have such callous disregard for the property of others.

If you have teenagers at home, talk with them about the downside of damaging mailboxes, and vandalism in general. Remind them of the penalties, the impact on the victims, that they can get hurt or killed in the process, and that the Postal Service™ doesn't take such crimes lightly.

If you have information on mailbox vandalism or mail theft in your area, report it to your local Post Office™ or to the Postal Inspection Service at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).

We need your help in order to provide you with the best possible service.

Thank you,

Paul Drennen and Beverly Mullins, Postmasters Chloe and Orma, West Virginia

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