Wednesday, March 26, 2008


It is still a surprise to me when I hear of someone who has had their property vandalized. I wonder if it is being done by someone with personal malicious intent, if it is a random act of opportunity.

I had a neighbor who lived over the hill at the back end of my property. He’d wander over from time to time to tell me of events where some local neighbors had their homes broken into or had their property vandalized. His horrific stories even convinced me to lock my door when I was away for a time, but then I realized that when ever I left my door unlocked I often came home to surprises. Sometimes I’d come home and find plants or pies or cookies or an occasional check on my table from friends or business associates. When you lock your door there is a good chance that people won’t leave things by your door from fear that something will be stolen or eaten by animals.

In my living here over the past twenty years I have only had one event of vandalism ever hit my property. One night during Spring Break about fifteen years ago at about 2am I heard a car stop in front of the house. I then heard a clunk, some laughter, a door slam and then the car sped off. The next morning I found my rural mail box had been ripped out of the ground and tossed aside. I found this happened to the mail boxes of other neighbors as well.

As I prepared to replace the post I thought about deterrents so I wouldn’t have to ever revisit this problem. Not only did I cement the post deep into the ground, but I lined the bottom of the board the mail box is mounted to with carpet tack strips, which are the thin boards that are spiked with nails that hold carpets in place around where floors meet the walls. I also ran sheetrock screws through some wood on the back of the box, so if you grabbed the box from the bottom or from the back you would shred any clothing or skin that touched it.

It was just about a week later when I heard a car pull up and stop again at 2am. I am a light sleeper. Suddenly I heard a blood curdling shout, followed a bunch of “Oh Shit, Oh Fuck” statements. A car door slammed and sped away. The next morning I saw my mailbox was still standing as were all the rest of the mailboxes down the road from mine, but the boxes leading up to mine had been uprooted again. We haven’t had another mailbox incident on our road since.


Blogger Beth said...

Other than the mailbox incident, you've been very fortunate. I would love to be able to leave my door unlocked (used to.) We were robbed and vandalized many years ago - such a terrible experience. Police suspected kids on drugs - they were never caught.

5:37 AM  
Blogger Hahn at Home said...

I love my ex-husbands story from high school where he and his buddy went down the road, his buddy with his leg out the window, kicking down mailboxes and his buddy let out a howl. Broke his hip when he hit one moored quite like yours. They had a little problem explaining that and ended up paying for all the mailboxes.

7:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was probably californians. they get their kicks running around tearing up mailboxes.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Syd said...

Well done, Guy. Any suggestions for the little fuckers that hang out of car windows and knock down the mailboxes with a baseball bat?

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to fix those punks wagon Guy. They were probably on some demented version of a looper. What the hell, am I in some sort of slightly off kilter parallel universe here? Yesterday you wrote about going to the dentist, just by coincidence I had a dentist appointment, however I must say I am amazed by the competence of my guy. After I sit down in one of his chairs, instead of asking for my files, he'll say "I was was thinking about your particular situation last night and I think if it was me, I would want X, it will cost this amount, the other option is Y for this amount but the down side is such and so. If only other medical personnel had his willingness to prepare and communicate. On top of that he works fast, painlessly and is quite reasonable.
Now your talking about damaged mailboxes. After "in the top ten" winters for snowfall for this area, the mailboxes have suffered greatly at the hands of the county snowplows. As the snow slowly melts away you see them; bashed, smashed and laying piles of dirty sand and pea gravel. Often the posts are mangled/deconstructed in some way too. Our mail box just got buried. I came back from a trip and started to try and shovel it out but soon realized after I found the top of it, (it was still standing)there was least 10 yards of snow in the way. I just bought another mailbox, screwed a 4x4 horizontal to the bottom of the box and jammed the post into the snowbank. It worked like a charm till the old mailbox reapperared in all its glory on Easter Sunday. The other box retired itself by falling to the road due to lack of snowbank.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

syd, I've wondered what to do about the baseball bat-wielding vandals, too. One idea would be to get a smaller mailbox, put it into a larger mailbox and fill the dead space with concrete. It would look like an ordinary box, but be solid enough to break bats. ;-)

And, Guy, I love the carpet tack strip idea!

12:54 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

Thanks, Rich. I just happen to HAVE a large and small mailbox at home. Hmmm....

12:56 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Beth, the trend now leads toward identity theft so it may be safe to open up again.

Lori, did you quit writing? Or is my bloglines not getting any of your new posts?

Anon, I think the Californians are afraid of the Country. No place to by $5 coffee out our way.

Other anon, Sometimes I'm shocked when I do a story and then I read about the same topic in the paper or see it on the news a day later.
Sometimes I write it in advance and then it hits the news the day before I post. It happened this week with my medical record story and it was on the Nightly News with Jim Leher the night before I ran it. I figured I'd still run it because I think I'm the only one who gets their news from Oregon Public Brodcasting.
Syd, something that explodes upon contact or 1/4 inch steel plates.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Hahn at Home said...

Guy, I am indeed still blogging. You can resubscribe at my hot newly designed site...well, not hot exactly, but, well, homey.

8:46 PM  
Blogger weese said...

carpet strips...brilliant.

our door is left unlocked too.
beer is in the bottom drawer of the fridge.
tho... unless the FREE DOG knows you - I wouldn't risk it.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Mike S said...

Our doors stay unlocked for the most part as well. We do lock up if going for a few days in summer 'tourist' season. Our downstairs tenant was amazed when I told him we took larger pets on the ground floor as long as they're cleaned up behind. BFD is a real deterrant(sp?).

The little box inna big one works really well.

Most folks with boxes here have them suspended by steel chains from tall iron poles that hang out over the snowbanks like a plant holder. The plows just make them swing usually. Just have to lower them a foot or so in summer. Mailpeople exit their vehicles in winter to reach them.

9:30 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

Geez, Guy! Remind me not to vandalize your house!

The identity theft thing is a touchy one. I recently purchased a shredder, and just today am moving the basket out to where my mail is set, because I have heard horror stories about the hassle it creates and I am in no mood for that kind of misadventure!

2:15 PM  

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