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Is it a crime to vandalize mailboxes?

Generally speaking, New York residents like you may associate mailbox vandalism with harmless high school pranks. The stereotypical image is one of unruly teens taking bats to mailboxes as they drive past, knocking them over or denting the metal. But did you know that not only is this illegal, it's also a federal offense?

That's right. As stated by Postal Inspectors, all mailboxes are federal property. This means that they're protected under federal law. Vandalizing a mailbox in any way is more than just a property crime. It's a property crime against the federal government. Accordingly, the penalties for vandalizing a mailbox can be steep. For example, you may face up to 3 years in prison for any act of vandalism. You could also face a fine of up to $250,000, increasing in price as the severity of the crime rises.

There can also be community-wide effects of mailbox vandalism that aren't talked about as frequently. Did you know that property rates can actually drop in communities where mailboxes are targeted? It may seem like a small issue, but it shows that the property isn't as safe as it could be, which easily drives potential residents away.

What constitutes mailbox vandalism, then? Some of the most common examples include:

  • Graffiti
  • Denting the mailbox
  • Knocking the mailbox over
  • Stealing the mail inside
  • Stealing the mailbox

In short, anything that defaces, damages, or harms a mailbox or its contents could potentially be considered vandalism. Because mailboxes are considered federal property, anyone who commits vandalism will certainly be dealing with steep and hefty consequences.

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