A few days after moving in, I noticed that the brick enclosure had tumbled. Either a car hit it, or someone kicked it over. The next day the pile of bricks was gone. The bricks were now several yards away from the mailbox, being used to prop up a plywood ramp so kids could do dirt-bike tricks.
A couple of days later, the bricks were gone. Someone had stolen them in the dead of night. Maybe they're being used to protect somebody else's mailbox, or are part of a backyard barbeque. In any case, I hope they used cement.
Now unprotected, our mailbox's life turned nasty, brutish, and short. I looked out the window one morning and saw the pole with nothing on top. Going outside to investigate, I found the mailbox lying in the dirt, with a giant dent in it. Someone must have played mailbox baseball the night before. Fortunately, I was able to remount the mailbox, but how long will it last before someone else wreaks havoc on it?
Ever since these events, I've been paying careful attention to mailboxes. It's interesting to see how they're fortified. I want to make a mailbox that can withstand the brute force and misplaced ingenuity of the delinquents that prowl around after nightfall. Here are a few mailboxes in my neighborhood (click thumbnails for enlargement):
The owner of this "brick shithouse" mailbox has obviously been victimized by vandals more than once. He's got his entire mailbox surrounded by bricks. The only way a vandal could cause damage to this is by ripping the door of the hinges. Survivability score: 9
The strategy here is to make the mailbox so low to the ground that troublemakers won't notice it. Also, the low-profile makes it hard for a beer-drunk, bat-wielding high-schooler in the passenger seat of a car to knock it off. I don't know why there are pebbles on the mailbox, but I noticed that on another mailbox on the same street. Is there a secret meaning? Survivability score: 6
Like the "brick shithouse" mailbox, this fully enclosed unit will withstand most assaults by amateur vandals. The owner's one mistake, in my opinion, is in making it attractive, and therefore a bigger target for those who find pleasure in damaging other people's property. Survivability score: 8
The thinking behind this design seems to say: "If you can't cage the vandals, then you need to cage the property." Behind the thick cast-iron grillwork you'll find an ordinary metal mailbox. The sturdy wooden beams look like they'd hold up against a determined attack. Survivability score: 7
I'd be interested in seeing photographs of other fortified mailboxes. Email them to me.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects