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Hamptons Life

Feb 20, 2012 9:21 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Destroyed Mailboxes: Foul Play Or Plow Damage?

Feb 20, 2012 11:59 AM

Brooklyn-based artist Eleanor Alper gets out to her North Sea studio—nestled in the woods on the corner of Noyac Road and Whalebone Landing Road—every so often during the winter for special occasions.

What should have been an exciting visit last week quickly turned into a somber one. While the artist was waiting for a shipment of paintings from Italy, she stumbled across a rude surprise on the edge of her property facing Noyac Road: what was left of her heavy-duty green mailbox.

Hanging on by just one side, the base was ripped open and cracked up the front, causing the mailbox to tip over backward into an overgrown planter on the ground.

“It’s a big, huge, plastic mailbox, almost like a pillar,” Ms. Alper said during a telephone interview on Thursday. “I was shocked at the damage. It seems to be done by a great deal of violence by a truck. It’s hard to break that kind of thing, especially like that.”

Ms. Alper’s mailbox is not the only casualty of late. Since the end of January, more than a dozen mailboxes along Noyac Road in North Sea and Sag Harbor have suffered similar fates. Dented, cracked and downright mowed-over mailboxes have lined the road until, recently, homeowners began putting the pieces back together while guessing at who or what could be the culprit behind the mailbox massacre.

The Southampton Town Police Department has no leads, according to Sergeant Walter Britton. In December, a report came in about three destroyed mailboxes along Noyac Road, he said, as well as another on four damaged mailboxes just a couple of weeks ago.

“We have zero prospects or information, no witnesses,” he said during a telephone interview last week. “We’re having a really hard time with this. It appears someone with a truck is just driving right over the top of them, almost like a kid thing.”

The young prankster theory didn’t come as a surprise to Noyac Road homeowner Frank Bosco, whose mailbox is bungee-corded onto its post.

“That’s common out here, it’s nothing new. You see it every once in a while, a kid putting a bat to them ...” he paused during a recent interview at his home, making a swinging motion with his arms, followed by a cracking noise. “You know, kid stuff. Some things don’t change. I did it when I was young, too.” He went on to say that out here, knocking over a mailbox is the equivalent of cow tipping.

But Mr. Bosco maintained that the damage done to his mailbox is thanks to last year’s record snowfalls, which stirred up frustration among local residents toward Southampton Town employees. Some even threw snowballs and cursed at Highway Department workers, angry that town plows had pushed snow back into their driveways and damaged their mailboxes.

“The snow just ripped them all down. They hit them with the plows,” Mr. Bosco said. “This is my first time back out here; we rented for the season. The tenants didn’t tell me anything, so I just made a quick fix so the mail lady could do her thing.”

The Sag Harbor Post Office’s six mail carriers, who also service the North Sea area, have not reported any difficulties delivering mail along Noyac Road, according to Connie Chirichello, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service New York region.

“But if something happens to the mailbox, the carrier would bring the mail back to the office and the post office would hold it for 10 days in the hopes that the resident would contact the post office to find out where their mail is,” Ms. Chirichello said, though upon inspection, half of the downed mailboxes held stacks of letters, regardless.

Or some postal carriers might deliver letters right to the front stoop, as Noyac Road resident Mary McMahon’s mail carrier did for several weeks after her mailbox was knocked off its post during the January storm, Ms. McMahon reported.

“I’m an old woman, I’m 81,” Ms. McMahon said during a telephone interview earlier this month. “And I didn’t need to have this aggravation.”

But the box was mysteriously fixed just two weeks ago, she said.

“Until yesterday afternoon, it was standing upright next to the post,” Ms. McMahon said. “I didn’t know what happened until my mail carrier told me that she had completed her deliveries and on her way back—the plow was going east, she was going west—she saw the plow go by and the mailbox flying. I mean, you know, you try to keep things nice, but by God.”

Another Noyac Road resident, who asked to remain anonymous, also blames the snowplows for repeated mailbox damage. The most recent storm earlier this year was the fifth time the resident’s mailbox has been knocked down over a 10-year span, according to the homeowner.

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Mostly singles. A few extra base hits though.
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Feb 20, 12 2:34 PM
2 members liked this comment
That's really not a "heavt duty mailbox". PVC is hardly high tensile material.

A buddy of mine, pretty good with a welder, got tired of his mailbox being taken out. He built a heavy duty version. Out of steel. Including, a nice section of I-Beam...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Feb 20, 12 7:59 PM
Seriously "Heavy Duty" its plastic, probably made in China. I have seen people with fortified mailboxes who no longer have to worry about baseball bats or plows. Maybe Ms. Alper should buy a better mailbox. As for the plows, these same people crying over thier plowed down mailboxes would be leading the lynch mob if they could not drive there bmws to the summer house. Welcome to the country, if you can hang please leave!!!!!
By Corwin1879 (40), Southampton on Feb 21, 12 8:57 AM
1 member liked this comment
Close examnation has revealed that only those mailboxes that have been accepting mail from President Obama's re-election campaign have been destroyed. There was also one report of an overly gleeful Rush Limbaugh speeding down Noyac Road with a special, heavy duty stainless steel baseball bat attached to the right front bumper of his big, black BMW.
By Capt. Phil (64), Southampton on Feb 21, 12 10:52 AM
1 member liked this comment
Well it was VERY fortunate that the LARGE shipment of paintings were not in the HEAVY DUTY PVC mail box,,that would never happen in in Brooklyn,,at least it would never make front page news,
By Etians rd (543), Southampton on Feb 21, 12 12:12 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on Feb 21, 12 12:38 PM
My mailbox got hit once.. Rendering the vehicle that hit it inoperable... 8 foot 6 x 6 4 feet in the ground with cement... occasionally there is minor "plow damage" but nothing that would stop the mail from being delivered. If its kids doing this then they know which mail boxes not to mess with!
By Dunker137 (12), Southampton on Feb 21, 12 12:49 PM
If I check my atomic clock correctly it says the year is 2012. If I check the detective archives over 50 years ago, technology existed back then that allowed a cast of tire marks. Considering this Is a federal Offense, you would think this would not be over looked. With the advance in technology since, and like all other things, the older tech becomes the cheaper it is. We live in a town with the highest paid officers, and in a county of the same. If they cant track stuff down, then how are we to ...more
By nyredwine (4), southampton on Feb 22, 12 12:20 PM
Why is this even an article? Unbelievable with everything else going on around here.
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on Feb 22, 12 2:09 PM
The Press offers a wide range of stories, not just hard news. We write news features and enterprise news stories, sports coverage, real estate stories, coverage of the arts, editorials and op-ed columns. Something for everyone, if you will. Please feel free to read what interests you--there's plenty there to choose from!
By Bill Sutton, Managing Editor (117), Westhampton Beach on Feb 22, 12 2:20 PM
I couldn't help but notice all the mailboxes immediately down after the snow. The snowplow driver is either a poor driver or is doing this on purpose.
By Q333 (161), Southampton on Feb 23, 12 1:05 PM
1 member liked this comment