12 AUGUST 9, 2018 RIDGEWOOD TIMES WWW.QNS.COM
Thinking outside the mailbox
In 2018, putting your Con Edison or
Verizon payment into a blue U.S.
Postal Service mailbox on a Queens
street corner has become as risky as
leaving a running car unattended,
with the keys in the ignition.
It’s not a matter of if someone will
steal it; it’s when it will happen.
Queens police offi cers and federal
postal inspectors have been battling
mailbox theft s around the borough
for more than a year, and the problem
doesn’t seem to be getting any closer
Creative crooks have been “fi shing”
checks and personal documents out
of the blue corner mailboxes that
the public has come to rely upon for
decades. The boxes are designed to be
a public convenience — a way to spare
residents from making the trek down
to their local post offi ce.
Nowadays, they’re an invitation to
small-time crooks and identity thieves
looking to get a hold of your money
and personal information.
The NYPD and USPS have done what
they could to make these mailboxes
more secure, especially by replacing
the wide-mouthed openings on many
of the boxes with small mail slots ideal
for thin envelopes.
Yet, not even that precaution has deterred
thieves from stealing mail out
of the boxes. Aft er the 104th Precinct
area (Glendale, Maspeth and Ridgewood)
saw a spike in mailbox theft s,
Councilman Robert Holden noted that
“even the new retrofi tted mailboxes are
still being fi shed for mail.”
Meanwhile, the NYPD has repeatedly
advised residents to avoid
dropping off mail aft er the appointed
collection times (usually about 5 p.m.
on weekdays). Some have suggested
that the public should steer clear of
public mailboxes altogether; the 111th
Precinct, following mail theft s in Bayside
last month, tweeted that residents
should avoid the boxes until they are
The USPS says it will spare no
expense in safeguarding the public
mailboxes. More of the mailboxes
will be fi tted with smaller slots and
provided with other security measures
designed to keep the mail in its
place until a postal worker comes to
pick it up.
But is it even worth the trouble?
Letter-writing has become a lost art
in the age of email, instant messaging
and social media. Many people pay
their bills by phone or online. Financial
institutions will accept scans of
important documents transmitted
by email or fax. Even the IRS would
prefer that you e-fi le your taxes rather
than go through all the paperwork.
It’s time for the USPS to “think
outside the mailbox” and phase out
the blue boxes in favor of a system of
mail collection and delivery similar to
that in rural areas. Residents can leave
their mail in their own mailboxes for
the postal worker to pick up when
dropping off the day’s mail. This would
shorten the amount of time in which
mail is left unattended, and further
deter thieves from committing theft .
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