A few weeks ago I mentioned in that my husband had wandered down to put a letter in our mailbox, only to find that our mailbox had been stolen overnight.
With my warped sense of humor I thought it was hilarious—until I had to pay to reorder the mailbox and then spend a weekend at home while my husband reinstalled it all over again.
I duly reported the "kidnapping of my mailbox" to the Harrison Police Department (HPD) who took it remarkably seriously. An officer arrived at the house to take details, but once again it hit my funny bone as I had to "describe my mailbox" to the officer for his report. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this connected to my mailbox in my life, so I tried to inject just the right degree of concern and empathy into my descriptive process.
The officer was duly impressed, took copious notes and said he assumed it was a teenage prank and, paperwork done, proceeded on his way.
Turns out we were actually one of many people in the area that were affected by the mailbox issue.
Our first hint of this was when we went down to see if our neighbors had also lost their mailboxes. They hadn’t. We also realized, after looking over the "crime scene", that whoever had removed our mailbox had gone to considerable trouble to get it off the cemented support pole.
When I called postmaster to ask if our mail could be delivered to our door until our new mailbox arrived, he informed me that thefts of this kind were being reported to him from all over town. The postmen arrive to make their delivery and see a pole without a mailbox or even an empty hole in the ground, at which time they just bring the mail back to the post office until they hear from the distraught homeowner.
Then we received a follow up call from the police a week or two after the theft. Turned out the police had identified the mailboxes being stolen as large metal boxes—ours was copper—and suspected that they were being sold for scrap metal. Other metal products, including manhole covers and drains, have apparently also been going missing. In fact, police made an arrest in January for the after they say a group of men were removing them from parking lots in West Harrison.
It’s a sad day when even our sewers aren’t safe.
To my amazement, the officer informed me that following our mailbox kidnapping reports, the police had called every scrap metal dealer in and around Westchester with details of the more distinctive mailboxes so they could be notified if someone brought them in for sale.
It made me remember one of my first interviews with Police Chief Anthony Marraccini. He told me then they had recently tapped a suspected drug dealer’s phone and taped him saying that he would deliver the drugs “anywhere but Harrison”, because of the zero tolerance for crime in our town and the passion of our local force to stamp out crime whether large or small.
The loss of our mailbox was a minor theft—an inconvenience at best. But on the positive side, it was an indication of the commitment of our police force to treat every crime as important, and to ensure that the type of person that is able and prepared to steal or otherwise harm our town residents in any way, will not do so without consequences.
As Marraccini said, “This is someone from either inside or outside our community, who is prepared to take a risk for the few dollars the scrap metal will bring in. I don’t want that type of person wandering our streets where residents are out walking their dog or our children are playing. So there’s no small crime as far as I’m concerned.”
My new mailbox and I say: Thank you!