If you’re in the market for a new mailbox, or a set of mailboxes for your community, you may be wondering which type is the most secure, versus the least secure. After all, mail theft costs billions every year and seems to be rising all the time. Stolen mail includes important paper mail, sensitive information, and packages. Everyone has heard of the famed porch pirates.
Of course, you’ll want to prevent theft, so here’s a list of mailbox types, ranked from the least secure to the most secure.
Least Secure: Some Curbside Mailboxes. Curbside mailboxes do come with many pros: they’re often attractive, work well in condo communities, and can come with multiple customer units on the same one or two posts. They’re also the most customizable mailbox type, next to wall mount mailboxes. Curbside mailboxes can work with accessories and come in a variety of materials and colors.
However, most models do not lock, and it is these non-locking models that are open to mail theft. If mail theft is an issue, or you’re worried about small packages going missing as well as sensitive mail, then opting for a regular curbside mailbox isn’t for you. Other, more secure options are available.
Another strike against the curbside mailbox is its location. Because they stand near roadsides and sidewalks, they are the easiest type of mailbox for thieves and vandals to target. They’re also the most vulnerable to damage from passing vehicles.
Also Least Secure: Some Wall Mount Mailboxes. Wall mount mailboxes are typically used for single-family homes as they mount onto homes, usually near the front door. They’re common in suburbs, and though they’re also highly customizable, most units don’t lock. However, they’re rarely near a curb or sidewalk, so they’re slightly less likely to encounter mail theft than their curbside counterparts.
Slightly Better: Wall Slots. Wall slots are exactly that: slots in a door (often an apartment or office door) which have flaps that open for mail. Because mail goes directly into an office or apartment, it’s generally safer than mail in a curbside mailbox.
However, door slots can’t accommodate large packages, and mail can potentially be left on the floor for some time, open to anyone who walks through the area. This can include other employees of an office.
Better: Locking Curbside and Wall Mount Mailboxes. If you must opt for curbside or wall mount mailboxes, or if it is the best option for your commercial property, locking units are available if security has been an issue. These locking mailboxes are often larger than regular curbside and wall mount mailboxes, because they accommodate larger mail volumes and are more often used for business mail. For this reason, locking units are less customizable than standard mailboxes, but the added security and sturdier construction will help keep mail safe as well as reduce vandalism and the need to replace your mailboxes.
Better Still: Any Centralized Mailbox. Centralized mailboxes, with the exception of very old models which are very rare nowadays, all come with locking customer units. Centralized mailboxes consist of a single, metal cabinet (usually aluminum) that holds two or more customer units. These units always lock, providing each postal customer with basic security.
There are three main types: wall mounted, recessed, and freestanding mailboxes. Of those, there are centralized mailboxes approved for USPS delivery, and those only approved for private delivery (within an organization such as a college campus or military base.) This information will be available on the page, helping you decide which is best.
Most centralized mailboxes have rectangular or square customer compartments that are large enough to fit regular-sized mail and some small packages. They may or may not have parcel lockers, which are oversized units designed strictly for holding packages.
With centralized mailboxes, each customer gets 2-3 keys. These units are very often used in apartment complexes, office properties, and other commercial properties housing multiple families or businesses. They’re also a great choice for guarding important mail.
However, not all types of centralized mailboxes accommodate larger packages, and newer models are more secure than older models.
If you have a commercial property, you may already have centralized mailboxes. Some units, however, are out of date and less secure than the newest models. If you’re getting direct post office delivery, you may have older 4B mailboxes. How can you tell? These units will often have square or vertical compartments, and no parcel lockers for larger packages. It may be time to update your mailboxes with the newer 4C models.
Best: 4C Type Centralized Mailboxes. 4C mailboxes have been required by the USPS for new installations since 2006 if you’re seeking direct USPS delivery and opting for centralized units. These mailboxes are all approved for USPS use and have more stringent security and construction requirements than their older counterparts. Most come with parcel lockers, of which you’ll need one per ten customer units (for apartments, that requirement is one per five.)
Parcel lockers are an excellent way to prevent the theft of USPS-delivered packages, and parcel lockers can also be purchased for private use. A third party can receive packages from other carriers and use parcel lockers to safely transfer packages to the customer.
Like other centralized mailboxes, 4C mailboxes can stand alone, recess, or mount to a vertical surface. The one downside is that they aren’t very customizable, but their neutral colors allow them to work well with most property palettes.
The most secure mailbox setup would likely be a recessed, centralized mailbox system located in an indoor, well-lit setting such as a lobby or clubhouse. But these mailboxes work well outdoors, as they’re highly resistant to tampering and the weathering that is affecting many older units.
National Mailboxes is committed to helping you find the mailbox security level for your property and your needs. If you have questions about which mailbox type is right for you or your development, be sure to contact us so that we can help.