Modesto Columnist: Get a Locking Mailbox!

The Modesto Bee columnist Su Vidauri recently published a column that we find rather relevant. In summary, she realizes that mail theft is a sad reality that homeowners must take measures to prevent. Finally, she caves in and purchases a locking mailbox, and recommends that other Modesto residents smarten up and do the same. We couldn’t agree more!

The column is reprinted below for your reading pleasure:

New mailbox easy way to go

I live in a quiet northeast area of Modesto. Recently, I had to retire one of the last items I consider to be a sign of small-town existence, my rural style mailbox.

Until recently, our mail was still being delivered to the standard, individual box planted at the edge of our yard. As the years have passed, I’ve noticed many of my neighbors have replaced the all trusting box with a more modern locking one. Each year I would tell myself that I should do the same.

You hear about identity theft and credit card theft and about mail being stolen for such purposes. But I fell into the pit of denial, refusing to believe our quiet little street could become a target for such things. I was wrong.

On a sunny afternoon, someone stole my mail. It so happens they were lucky enough to steal it on the day I received a renewed credit card.

That evening the thieves attempted to purchase computers at a Riverbank electronics store. I am happy to report that the sale did not go through as the new card had not been activated.

Unfortunately, that motivated the thieves to return to my home in the middle of the night to steal nearly half of my garbage from my black can in hopes of finding something that would help with the activation. This meant another lesson learned: I now keep the can in my backyard, out of a stranger’s reach.

The incident was reported to the Modesto Police Department, where I was told that theft and use of a stolen card is not even investigated unless the amount charged is over $3,000. How about the fact that stealing U.S. mail is a felony?

Regardless of having access to store video and other identifying factors, I got the feeling that this crime placed very low on the totem pole of priorities with the police department. After three weeks of making numerous calls, leaving messages and sitting on hold with the investigations department, I received a response from an officer telling me nothing had been done with the report. He assured me I’d be notified if an arrest was made. I’m not holding my breath on that one.

So it was with saddened heart that I removed my mailbox, replacing it with the modern locking style that is quickly populating my neighborhood. I wrestle weekly with my large black garbage can, having to squeeze it through my back gate before getting it to the street, cussing the thieves who forced me into this situation.

Those of you still clinging to the nostalgia of the small-town box, take heed and replace it now before you too find yourself a victim of mail theft — or worse, sitting on perpetual hold with the police department.

Vidauri is a Modesto resident. Contact her at

Our comment response on this post:

“I enjoyed reading this column. Insightful, as mail theft is on the rise and the best defense is surely a quality security locking mailbox. Sadly, residents can’t count on police to investigate these crimes or even to keep these criminals locked up once they are arrested. Most identity thieves are given a slap on the wrist and back at it in no time.

The MOST IMPORTANT thing when purchasing a locking mailbox, by the way, is to make sure it is a quality security mailbox that will truly keep your mail and identity secure. It should be made of heavy gauge steel and prevent prying or leveraged entry as well as fishing by hand. There are only a few secure mailboxes available and they are the Mail Boss, Fort Knox and Armadillo.”

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