If you live in the New York area, you might be seeing some updated mailboxes hitting the streets! All throughout New York City, the US Postal Service is replacing old pull-down collection boxes with narrow letter slot boxes. These new mailboxes are much more secure, and we’re willing to bet that we’re going to see more of them as time goes on.
Why is USPS Updating Mailboxes?
Good question! USPS isn’t revamping collection boxes just for the sake of doing it. The main reason behind it is to prevent theft due to mail fishing, and USPS is wasting no time on the issue. Nearly all 7,000 collection boxes in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts are being revamped. Manhattan’s complete mailbox overhaul is on schedule to be completed by this summer.
These updated mailboxes have slots that are only wide enough for letters to pass through. That means that people won’t be able to reach inside or attempt mail fishing, like they can with pull-down collection boxes. Also, people won’t be able to place small packages inside these new boxes. Instead, they’ll need to drop them off at the Post Office. However, before you start moaning and groaning about standing in those long lines, keep in mind that you can always schedule a free pick-up for your packages at home!
Hold Up—What’s Mail Fishing?
Mail fishing is the (illegal) act of reaching into a mailbox to steal mail. Here’s the gist of how it works:
Typically in the middle of the night, thieves will use strings to lower glue-covered rodent traps or bottles coated with some sort of adhesive down the hatch of USPS collection boxes. Inside, envelopes attach to this sticky “fish hook,” and the thief will then slowly reel them out. Using this tactic, thieves can get their hands on mail such as envelopes that contain gift cards, money orders or checks. Believe it or not, it happens all the time.
What’s even scarier is that mail fishing can also result in identity theft. Trust us when we tell you that you don’t want your identity stolen…especially in the digital age in which we live.
The New Boxes Are Working, but Mail Fishing is Still a Problem
In 2018, nearly 3,000 incidents of mail fishing were reported in New York City. As of March 1st, 2019, there have been only 352 reported cases. That’s a 30% reduction from what the number was last year, and these new collection boxes are undoubtedly the reason behind the decline. However, 352 is still a lot of cases…and the year isn’t even halfway through yet.
Mail fishing is one of those cases where the best form of protection is prevention. Hopefully these new, updated mailboxes will continue to deter thieves and eventually make mail fishing a thing of the past!