Fireworks suspected in USPS mailbox fire in Royal Oak

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published November 22, 2021

 On Nov. 16, the only thing left signifying the existence of the U.S. Postal Service mailbox located near North Main Street and Vinsetta Boulevard was the cement plinth on which the mailbox stood and some charred pieces of mail and ash. Royal Oak police and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are actively investigating a case of destroyed mail, because tampering with mail is a federal crime.

On Nov. 16, the only thing left signifying the existence of the U.S. Postal Service mailbox located near North Main Street and Vinsetta Boulevard was the cement plinth on which the mailbox stood and some charred pieces of mail and ash. Royal Oak police and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are actively investigating a case of destroyed mail, because tampering with mail is a federal crime.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik

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ROYAL OAK — At approximately 1:28 a.m. Nov. 9, a caller reported that someone placed fireworks in the U.S. Postal Service mailbox near North Main Street and Vinsetta Boulevard, causing a small fire and incinerating most of the mail inside the mailbox.

Lt. Al Carter, of the Royal Oak Police Department, said police confirmed that the last mail pickup from the large blue USPS mailbox took place at 10 a.m. Nov. 8.

Carter said any mail placed in the box after 10 a.m. Nov. 8 was incinerated. The only piece of mail that had a legible return address on it was a heavily damaged package that contained merchandise the sender was returning to Amazon.com, he said.

“We want to make sure that anybody that had mail in there is notified or at least sees it in the paper,” Carter said. “The neighbor who called stated they saw smoke coming from the mailbox after a bang. We believe someone threw fireworks in there, which caused the fire, and everything in there was damaged, burnt completely.”

He said police only received one message from a resident who learned of the mailbox fire from a neighbor and reached out to police about three rent payments intended for different businesses that the resident had deposited into the box.

“We gave him the report number to reference, so anybody (whose mail was burned should call the Criminal Investigation Division) and then they can reference the police report,” Carter said. “We can also add (their case’s information) to the police report. If somebody did mail something that was due or was of importance, we can verify it was (destroyed) after 10 a.m. Nov. 8.”

Carter said the Royal Oak Police Department has a detective assigned to the case and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service is also actively investigating the case, because tampering with mail is a federal crime.

According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service website, “Mail cannot be delivered to a damaged mailbox, and mailboxes cost money to replace. Plus, the mail inside will be destroyed and that could be important documents, necessary medicine, or priceless family treasures.”

The website states that mailboxes are protected by federal law and defendants convicted of destruction of federal property could spend up to three years in prison and be fined up to $250,000.

On Nov. 16, the only thing left signifying the existence of the USPS mailbox was the cement plinth on which the mailbox stood and some charred pieces of mail and ash.

Anyone with information regarding the incident or who believes their mail may have been destroyed should call the Royal Oak Criminal Investigation Division at (248) 246-3456.

For more information about the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, visit uspis.gov or call (877) 876-2455.

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