Black market thieves steal village’s antique postbox
A GANG of postbox thieves could be targeting the Home Counties after an antique example worth £800 disappeared, a councillor has warned.
Nicholas Field-johnson, of Oxfordshire county council, said gangs were targeting rare Victorian postboxes because there was a “strong market” for them in Eastern Europe.
In April, a 19th-century postbox was stolen from a stone wall in Asthall Leigh, west Oxfordshire. Mr Fieldjohnson said he feared thieves would now target other postboxes in the area.
He said: “They are quite expensive plus they’re more portable than the old red telephone boxes. We’ve been going back and forth with Royal Mail and they’ve said they will replace it with an Edwardian one, which are much more common.”
Andrew Young, chairman of the Letter Box Study Group, said: “It is a problem. I haven’t heard the Eastern Europe issue but they could be sold anywhere. My feeling is actually that people buy them for themselves without being aware that they could be handling stolen goods. They think ‘how sweet’ – lots of them are in front gardens to collect mail. I’ve seen them in wedding venues painted white, and one in a theatre as a place to put business cards.”
He estimated that up to 200 of the boxes could be stolen each year, with many ending up for sale online. Not all postboxes for sale will be stolen, however, as until 2003 the Royal Mail sold off decommissioned letter boxes.
A Royal Mail spokesman said: “The theft of postboxes is relatively rare. Royal Mail takes the issue extremely seriously, and works closely with police forces across the UK to prevent the unlawful removal of postboxes.
“We also deploy preventive measures and technologies to deter theft, including forensic tags, permanent metal marking systems and electronic tracking”.