October 24 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
The iconic post box has fallen victim to a spate of thefts in towns and villages across Norfolk and Suffolk. We ask why this bizarre crime is on the increase.
In an open letter to the thief who stole his village post box, parish council chairman Stuart Wilson said he hoped they slept easy at night.
Since the reign of King George, there had been a box on a post by the church at Brampton, in Norfolk, until it was taken last July.
Sadly, Mr Wilson is one of hundreds of people across Britain who have been blighted by this latest trend, which sees thieves strike in the dead of night to smash boxes out of brick pillars or tear them away from the ground.
More than 55 post boxes have vanished in the past five years – 25 since January 2013. Aside from the cost to replace them, thought to be in the region of £1,000 each, there is also the loss to local history.
Although only designed for members of the public to deposit outgoing mail, post boxes have had a number of additional uses over the years.
In 2012 more than 100 post boxes around the country were painted gold by Royal Mail in honour of the London 2012 Olympic Games. The only post box to be painted in Norfolk was in Belton, painted in honour of Jessica-Jane Applegate after she stormed to victory at the Paralympic Games in the women’s 200m freestyle. Although not officially painted by Royal Mail, a bronze post box also appeared in Lowestoft, the hometown of bronze medallist Anthony Ogogo, creating quite a stir.
Post boxes in East Beckham and Brampton in north Norfolk hit the headlines in 2011 and 2012 as birds built their nests inside.
Many of the historic post boxes were stolen from isolated spots in Norfolk and Suffolk. A post box taken from Denton, in Norfolk, last February dated back to Victorian times and another in St Peter South Elmham, Suffolk, was installed during the reign of Edward VII.
Crimes in Cley, Wymondham and Snape, in Suffolk, have caused similar distress.
Robert Cole, from the Letterbox Study Group, which keeps a database detailing the origins of more than 115,000 post boxes across Britain, said boxes were stolen to sell on to a collector or for scrap metal.
He said: “You would have to be very determined to steal a pillar box as they can sometimes be in up to five feet below the ground. The ones stolen appear to be either from walls or lamp posts, which would probably fetch at least £200 each. Yes, they have a financial value, but to me they have infinitely more heritage value as a living part of a landscape, and the stories they tell have genuine value, in my mind.”
A spokesman from Norfolk police confirmed investigations were still ongoing into the latest three thefts, which include Wiveton and Bodham.
A spokesman from Suffolk Police said: “Suffolk Police have recorded a number of thefts of post boxes since 2012 including incidents at Blaxhall, Rumburgh, Dallinghoo, Boyton and Parham – all villages in rural parts of the county.”
Royal Mail spokesman Jennifer Bird said: “We have some 115,000 post boxes around the country and thankfully thefts like these are relatively rare. Royal Mail urges anyone with any information to contact the police.”
Has your post box been stolen? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.