I’ve lived at my current residence nearly twenty years. It’s a fairly quiet street – low crime rate, nothing rowdy, and little to be concerned about. There is one exception, though, and that is the lowly mailbox in front of my home. It’s at the mercy of anyone who happens by with evil thoughts on their mind. The one I’m currently using is my fourth.
Replacing the entire mailbox assembly requires some effort. Not difficult, but time-consuming. Discovering a broken mailbox and post means digging up the old one, buying everything new, and re-installing it. Good quality wooden posts are expensive, also. Plus, it’s not exactly something you can put off until another time. No mailbox, no mail.
Mailbox vandalism has been around for years, and I’ve accepted the fact that it’s not going to go away. Trying to put a stop to it would be futile. So I decided long ago to make the best of the situation. And I have come up with one excellent method. It’s cheap, works well, and requires very little effort. The solution is a breakaway mailbox.
A breakaway mailbox may not be totally vandal-proof, but it can save you considerable time and expense. And, provided you have a separate mailbox and wooden post, creating one is simple. Here’s how:
1. Remove the mailbox from the post. It’s normally held in place with nails or screws.
2. Once the mailbox is off, remove the thin flat board the mailbox was fastened to. If the board is in bad shape, now’s a good time to replace it with a new one of treated lumber.
3. Disregard how that flat board was originally attached to the post’s arm. It was probably securely fastened with long screws and/or nails. My way is better.
4. Mount that board using nails that protrude just slightly out of the edge of the board – say a quarter inch to a half inch or so. If the board is Ã‚Â¾ of an inch thick, use 1 to 1 Ã‚Â¼ inch nails. And keep them to a minimum, say three at the most. Don’t use nails with any type of threads in them, such as drywall nails. They grip much too tightly. Use smooth ones. You want the board to be fastened to the post’s arm, but not too securely.
5. Re-mount the mailbox to the flat board. Don’t put every screw in it at this point.
6. Test the operation of the mailbox. Make sure it opens and closes without loosening. Give it a few taps on its sides.
7. If it seems to be fastened too tightly, use shorter nails. If it’s too loose, use slightly longer ones. You’ll have to remove the mailbox from the board first.
8. Once everything is the way you want it, mount the mailbox using all the screws.
That’s it. You’re done. The mailbox and board are now mounted to the post with only the small nails. This will permit normal opening and closing of the box. However, should someone come along one night and decide to take a swing at it with a sledge hammer, bat, or something equally destructive, the entire box and wooden board will break away easily, leaving your post intact.
Replacement is quite simple. Retrieve the mailbox, remove it from the flat board, and re-attach the board and mailbox to the post. If the mailbox has been destroyed beyond repair, new ones are fairly cheap. And I highly recommend buying the cheapest one you can find.
A word of caution: The goal here is to secure the box assembly to the post so it will not come loose during normal use, but will fall off easily if struck. Postal carriers don’t take too kindly to a mailbox that falls to the ground when they try to open it. And they may stop delivering until the box is repaired. The mail carrier must be able to reach your mailbox and deliver mail from his or her vehicle with ordinary effort. You’ll know if the box is working its way loose during your daily mail retrievals.
In addition, should the vandals strike any portion of the post instead of the box, damage to the post may result, but it doesn’t happen often. The box itself is usually the intended target, but sometimes their aim is less than perfect.
This method has worked well for me. My mailbox has fallen victim to vandals on several occasions, and the original wooden post has survived them all. Two decades and four mailboxes later, it remains standing proud.