Postal Legality

I know it is illegal to remove mail from someone else’s mail box, but I was once told that it is also illegal to place mail/letters/etc. into another person’s mailbox. Is this true? and if so, why? It seems that this action is no worse than solicitations that can be placed on a door. And since I bought and own my mailbox (and thus seemingly have every other power over it – i.e. to take it down or replace it or choose its design), why can’t I allow others to place items into it?

Door slots are not part of this rule:

A court case may provide the answer you are seeking:

In part:

The links were really helpful. Now I know it is illegal to place items into the mailbox, but how vigilant are postal carriers/usps at upholding that law. For example, if a postal carrier sees a non-posted letter in the box (which is obviously from a friend/relative of the owner of the box), is it likely that he/she would report it? and if so, how likely is the USPS to follow up on the report (assuming that this friend/relative can be tracked down from the info on the letter)?

It looks like the enforcers have their hands full with more serious matters:

Kiddie porn, mail theft, identify fraud, murder of postal carriers, anthrax, bombs, … :frowning:

Aside: There are a couple of videos I have yet to rent or buy: The Inspectors and The Inspectors 2 - A Shred of Evidence. Lou Gossett is in both, and they are about the work of U. S. Postal Inspectors.

From working with political campaigns, I know that if your lit-dropping volunteers put the campaign literature into the mailboxes instead of in the door, on the porch, etc., you can and will get a call from the local postmaster complaining about this. And they will quote you postal regulations that allow them to charge you the first-class rate (37 cents) for every lit piece that was placed in a mailbox. That can be a lot of money for a political campaign!

But generally, they just threaten you with this. I’ve never heard of them actually invoking it. And it only happens if your volunteers do it too often – a few in the mailboxes here and there won’t get you in trouble; just if it’s often enough for the postal carrier to notice it and mention it to the postmaster at the station.

That may be true only for political campaigns, which postal (govt) workers generally see as a civic duty. I’ve heard they are much tougher on others, like some utility companies that have hired delivery services to drop off their utility bills instead of mailing them. If those delivery companies use the mailboxes, they are much more likely to have action taken against them. The carrier can legally remove that from the mailbox, and the PO can then hold it until they pay for it to be delivered. And they will do that! Probably because they see that as ‘stealing’ their work, and undercutting their jobs.

A local community group I knew of once got cited for putting flyers in postal rural delivery mailboxes. An opponent filed a complaint with the postmaster. The PM felt sorry for the offenders and charged for a minimal number of offences, but said he had to do something since a formal complaint had been filed. So yes, it can and has been done. IMHO if it was just one item tucked in there on one occasion, the carrier probably has better things to do and won’t complain. Not that I’d recommend an illegal action (heaven forefend!) but I’d guess that if someone added an item to the mailbox between the time of the USPS delivery and the recipient’s retrieval, no harm, no foul.

Actually there is a job classification called something like “Postal Inspector”, they are something like Federal police, and they sometime show up for surprise inspections at post offices. Whatever they find is a federal offense. So in theory if they found some unauthorized stuff in a mailbox, they would track it down and get you…

Postal Inspectors are Federal law enforcement officers, but I wouldn’t really call them “federal police.” That’s more the FBI’s job. Postal Inspectors’ jurisdiction is limited to crimes committed using USPS services, on USPS property, or by or to USPS employees.