Vandalism suspected in slew of damaged mailboxes

Wednesday, January 13, 2021
Vandalism suspected in slew of damaged mailboxes

What can you do? Beaverhead County resident Torry Anderson took advantage of the addition of a turn-out near his mailbox to move the property further off the road with more protection and the mailbox was damaged again a week later. J.P. Plutt photo

Residents south of Dillon in the Blacktail Road and Carrigan Lane area have been victimized over the past three weeks by an outbreak of vandalism to roadside mailboxes. As many as 20 or more mailboxes have been damaged or destroyed.

“We’ve got a report of quite a few mailboxes being smashed,” said Beaverhead County Sheriff Paul Craft last week. “We’ve got a few leads and we’re asking the public if they’ve got any information to contact us with that and we’ll follow up on it.”

According to Wikipedia, mailbox baseball is an activity in which a baseball bat or other object is used to knock over, dent, or smash roadside mailboxes by a passenger in a car. It is an act of vandalism and destruction of other peoples’ property.

The activity has been depicted in numerous movies and television programs including the 1993 coming-of-age comedy film “Dazed and Confused.” Wikipedia notes the act of vandalism has also been shown in “Stand by Me,” “The Benchwarmers,” “Freaks and Geeks,” “21 Jump Street,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” (season 9, episode 7; “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda,”) “Ghost Whisperer,” “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” and “The X-Files.”

Wikipedia included a footnote that damaging, destroying or tampering with mail boxes or with the U.S. mail is a federal crime, punishable by a fine and/or up to three years of imprisonment. A Dillon Tribune message left last week with the Postal Inspector’s Criminal Investigation Center was not returned.

Craft said the vandalism would be considered criminal mischief and with over three offenses, an offender could be charged with a common scheme that would move the offense into a felony category.

For Beaverhead County resident Torry Anderson, the entertainment value of an old film is the last thing on his mind. Anderson has had his mailbox damaged multiple times and he has had to deal with the possible interruption of his mail service and the time and expense of repairing the damage.

“My first mailbox got smashed twice,” said Anderson on Monday when called by the Tribune. “I kind of fixed it once and then the door got smashed off the second time.”

Anderson didn’t jump to the conclusion that his mailbox problems were the result of vandalism. He thought there was the possibility that due to the close proximity to the roadside, his mailbox may have been accidentally damaged by passing farm equipment or other large vehicles that use Blacktail Road.

“I called the county and they actually put in a turn-out so that the mailbox would be further back off the road,” said Anderson. “And then my new mailbox was hit.”

Anderson spent a weekend relocating his mailbox and those of two neighbors to the new turnout section some 50 feet down from the previous spot. Because his mailbox was on the south side, it was the box most susceptible to acts of vandalism like mailbox baseball. He built a new stand per U.S. Postal Service specifications for mailbox installation and moved the three mailboxes and put them in the same order, with his box on the south side. The project cost him about $40 and he completed it over a weekend.

“Beaverhead County was excellent. I called them up and honestly, I don’t know to this day if somebody was intentionally doing it or if it was accidentally hit because it was a little close to the road,” explained Anderson.

But after the new installation that included posts sticking up to protect the mailbox, his mailbox was hit again a week later.

“I never called the sheriff and complained,” said Anderson. “I figured I’d get the mailbox further off the road, protect my mailbox a little bit more, and then my new one got a dent too. That didn’t make me too happy, but what can you do?”