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Topic: Can someone tell me the law in regards to

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Subject: Can someone tell me the law in regards to
Date Posted: 9/9/2007 2:22 PM ET
Member Since: 2/17/2006
Posts: 349
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our home mail boxes? Isn't it against the law to write someone a letter and put it in someones mail box themselfs?

Can I find these laws on the internet? The reason I am asking is some of us on my street are recieving mail from a unknown person and its not nice mail. I have put a camera outside so I can see who enters my mail box. I still would like to know what the law is.


Date Posted: 9/9/2007 3:08 PM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2005
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I know it used to be illegal to put anything in someones mailbox. I'd assume that is still true.

Date Posted: 9/9/2007 3:23 PM ET
Member Since: 2/6/2006
Posts: 1,186
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It's against postal regulations to put anything in someone's mailbox without paying postage. You should call your local PO about the situation. They should be able to advise you on what steps should be taken. They could advise calling the local police department or the Inspection Service, especially if the letters contains things of a 'hate crime' nature.

Title 18 U.S.C. 1725 prohibits the deposit of unstamped "mailable matter" in a letterbox approved by the United States Postal Service, and violations are subject to a fine.

ETA Title 18 U.S.C. information

Last Edited on: 9/9/07 3:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/9/2007 5:00 PM ET
Member Since: 5/29/2007
Posts: 13,347
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I know it's illegal because, some years ago, when my son was spending some time at his dad's house, my peach of an ex husband sent the cops to my door after I left a school book my son needed for homework in their mailbox. 

Date Posted: 9/10/2007 2:55 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2005
Posts: 379
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Contact the Postal Inspection Service: http://www.usps.com/postalinspectors/

This is a http://www.usps.com/ncsc/locators/find-is.html for finding your closest office.

Good luck, and I'm sorry this is happening to you!

ETA: an online http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/casecode/uscodes/18/parts/i/chapters/83/sections/section_1725.html to the law Connie cites

Last Edited on: 9/10/07 3:02 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/10/2007 4:21 PM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
Posts: 5,791
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It's even illegal to leave things in your own mailbox for people to come by and get if it's not stamped mail.  I used to leave things for people when I knew they were coming by to pick stuff up, and then I found out it's a no-no.  Even though it's your mailbox and you paid for it, by using it you have to comply to the USPS laws.  It's a safety thing, I'm sure.

Date Posted: 9/10/2007 4:52 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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people leave things for me in my mailbox all the time.  I'm not going to report them because while I sort of get why we shouldn't, I think it is kind of stupid.  luckily it is usually long after the mail lady has come.

Date Posted: 9/10/2007 8:16 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 6,421
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Leslie, you don't have to report them, if the mail carrier comes by with something in it for you that did not go thru the system, The CARRIER will report it.

Date Posted: 9/10/2007 9:58 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,817
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When our paperboy left the newspaper in the mail box because it was raining, the carrier took it to the post office and I got it back the next day - POSTAGE DUE!! 

Date Posted: 9/11/2007 12:14 AM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2005
Posts: 5,501
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HUH?  The paper person puts our paper in the mailbox-they always have.....except for the times I have had to go get it out of the yard in my jammies.  Our paper is here at 7am and the mail doesn't come till 3pm or so.


Date Posted: 9/11/2007 3:06 AM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2007
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Thatīs the most ridiculous law Iīve ever heard of. Honestly !
Date Posted: 9/11/2007 8:18 AM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
Posts: 5,791
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It's true....anything they find in your mailbox, they can charge you postage for.

Date Posted: 9/11/2007 12:16 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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Leslie, you don't have to report them, if the mail carrier comes by with something in it for you that did not go thru the system, The CARRIER will report it.

we have a really nice carrier and she doesn't report anything that I know about. 

Date Posted: 9/11/2007 1:33 PM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2006
Posts: 877
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Recently one of my neighbors asked me to watch her cat while she went to the shore.  She told me she would drop off her key.  She came by when I wasn't home and left the key in an envelope in my mailbox.  (NOT a good idea.  She could have just left it between my storm door and my front door.  But I digress.)

The envelope was a stationery envelope from her place of business.  She had written my name on it, and put the keys in it, wrapped in a piece of paper.  There was no postage or further address, but there was a pre-printed return address for her office.

Well, I guess the letter carrier hadn't come yet that day, so they took it, assuming it was outbound mail.  They then returned it to her place of business for no postage  and no address.  Which is exactly what they should have done.  And there was postage due on the envelope of 41 cents.

Luckily her office contacted her and they mailed me the key, so the poor kitty wasn't starving to death!

Date Posted: 9/11/2007 5:31 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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yikes, what if there hadn't been a return address label?!

Date Posted: 9/11/2007 7:08 PM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2006
Posts: 877
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Really, Leslie, I hear ya!  My neighbor was ticked off, and I was like, wellllll....don't put stuff in the mailbox and ya won't have that problem!  LOL!

Date Posted: 9/13/2007 10:17 AM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
Posts: 73
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If you really hate that you cannot use your mailbox for anything that you want, then lobby your Congressman. That is one of the things that is controlled by the Postal Regulations. After that change, you will be able to receive anything you want in your mailbox. That will give anyone the right to open your mailbox door. Then can put anything they want in your mailbox, without having to worry about paying postage or any postal regulations. Any ad, any garbage they want out of their car, any whatever. In addition, since the post office no longer has control over who is supposed to open your mailbox door, I suspect there will be much less recourse for mail theft.

So is this really a dumb regulation by the post office?

Date Posted: 9/13/2007 12:50 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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yes I still think it is a dumb regulation because until this thread I had no idea it even existed.  and it doesn't stop people from doing it and putting things in your mailbox that you may not want (ads, trash, etc).  So if it doesn't really stop someone from doing it now anyway, why have the regulation?  After all, unless you get a license plate or picture of the person doing it, how would you know who to go after?

Date Posted: 9/13/2007 2:17 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2006
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I don't think it's a dumb regulation; it's just one that has some nuances and may not be immediately and intuitively obvious.

Local small businesses (painters, health clubs, etc) don't annoy me too much when they stuff their ads in the box - but it REALLY peeves me when they staple their "important messages" to the box post or even to our door. Can you believe the manager of the local health club couldn't understand our annoyance at having their crap stapled to our front door? The guy actually said HE wouldn't mind it, so just throw it away if we're not interested. Sheesh!

Well, at least they are purchasing their own paper and paying their own delivery charges. It could be worse - can you imagine junk mail, postage due? Oh wait - that's called spam!


Date Posted: 9/13/2007 8:09 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2005
Posts: 209
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Leslie, it's like any law.  Some people obey laws and some don't.  Laws against bank robbery don't stop people from doing it, they give society recourse and a tool to do something about it when it does happen.

I doubt you'll change your mind on this and that's OK, but most people seem happy with it.  The two key points are allowing access to your box by anybody (no questions asked) and revenue protection for the Postal Service.  The latter may be debatable but the former is very important, expecially in a country where mail  is  considered sacred and sanctity of the mails considered dear to the hearts of most of our population, the Constitution, and our lawmakers.

It doesn't stop people from stealing mail from your mailbox but most people are aware that only a letter carrier and the owner are suppose to have access to that box so when they see anyone else getting into it an alarm goes off.  In fact awhile back we had a thread going when someone did just that.

Obviously you weren't aware of this so I'm glad this has come up.  The next time you see someone who isn't a letter carrier or the owner getting into a mail box maybe you'll think about what personal information or mail they may be after and report it.  Even if it is just someone stuffing flyers as a part time minimum wage job you might want to think about what their screening process for that job was and how tempted (or experianced) they may be in such things to grab that credit card or credit card bill and have a field day with it.

There a few countries left who don't respect or protect sanctity of the mails.  They're the ones we recommend sending letters and anything important too as Registered Mail with the hopes they will get it at all and unopened.


Date Posted: 9/14/2007 2:16 PM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2007
Posts: 8,942
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I actually thought everyone knew about this law!  I have plenty of things stuck to my door - either with tape or a rubber band around the doorknob, but in 6 years at this address I've only had one thing put into my mailbox by someone other than the postman.  I don't think I've ever had it happen anywhere else.  I'm glad the law is in place.  This is the first place I've ever seen anyone who didn't like it.   I really don't care for the idea of saying it's permissible for total strangers to prowl through my mail - even if they aren't stealing.

I've also seen plenty of places that have an extra small box that mounts below the mailbox for newspaper delivery.  I would think that if you just want a common repository for you and your friends to exchange *whatever* a seperately mounted box would do the trick.