Locking Mailbox: A Simple Identity Theft Deterrent

When we moved into our urban home from my suburban upbringing, my dad took one look at our mailbox and declared we were going to have to change it. Looking at it, I didn’t really understand — it was a pretty generic mailbox, letter-sized with one of those newspaper racks beneath it. Of course, it was pretty beaten up and only hanging on by one screw, but that’s pretty much indicative of the rest of the house.
When I asked him why, he asked me if I liked my identity enough to keep it.
He went on to explain that a locking mailbox would be much safer for our mail. Because our mailbox is on our front porch (but not by our front door) anyone who came up to our house (which is not far from the sidewalk on a major thoroughfare in our city) could reach right in and take our mail without us ever knowing.

Of course, at the time, my then-fiancee and I both worked outside the home, so if people came up to our house during the day neither of us were the wiser.
And being a young couple, we do get a great deal of mail offering us credit cards or cell phone plans or satellite service or loans or whatever have you. Combine that with our monthly bills and forwarded mail (and since, things like my passport and my son’s Social Security Card appearing mixed in with magazines and take-out menus), and losing our identities doesn’t seem like that far-fetched of a concept. So I heeded my dad’s advice and went to Home Depot and found the bigger, lockable box you see up there for roughly $25.
(Full discolsure: the placard was actually gold and I spray-painted it silver before attaching it because me and gold, we’re mortal enemies.)
To be honest, we haven’t always locked it — mostly because when I was planning my wedding, I received copious amounts of bridal magazines, which can be larger than the phone book and our old postal worker left a note complaining that if we locked the mailbox there was nowhere to put my tomes of bridal knowledge.
After some sticky-notes back and forth about whether or not placing said magazines inside my screen door was legally delivering them or not, I relented and left the box unlocked. Now that those are a distant, recycled memory (and that postal worker hasn’t been seen on our route for a few months now) I’ve got our mail under lock and key once more.
Do I feel safer knowing that my daily correspondence (including holiday/birthday cards, which are instantly valuable to would-be thieves if they contain giftcards or cash) is under lock and key when I’m out running errands or at the park with my son? Of course I do. And do I make sure that all those junk offers that fill our locked mailbox are shredded before we recycle them? Yeah, my dad raised me to do that too. And someday, when we get our big exterior renovation under way, we’ll have to relocate the mailbox even further from the house, making a secure depository that much more of a necessity.
How does your mailbox stack up to unwanted pilfering? Have any suggestions on other secure measures to keep your mail (and identity) safe? Ever had to battle it out with your postal worker about special mail? Let us know in the comments!

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