Shenandoah County neighbors upset over removal of mailboxes

Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 6:21 PM EDT
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SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Some residents of a Shenandoah County private community are upset after a neighbor removed 24 of their mailboxes from his property and dumped them half a mile away.

“There’s 24 accounts of destruction of property and tampering with the United States mail, and he did not have the authority to do that,” said Elizabeth Frazier, a resident of the Sundance Private Community in Shenandoah County.

The mailboxes were on the homeowner’s private property, but neighbors were stunned Friday to find them in a pile on the side of the road.

“I’m really distressed. We have had all our mail suspended. If we want our mail we have to drive to Mount Jackson which is a 27-mile round trip just to get our mail,” said Frazier.

So far, no charges have been filed against the property owner and no arrest has been made.

The Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office said that the County’s Commonwealth Attorney Amanda Wisley has taken the position that the incident is not a criminal matter because the mailboxes were on the homeowner’s private property.

However, neighbors believe it is a federal offense.

“The Post Office explained to my household that there is a public right of way that they have there along the road, and they approved the mailboxes to go there and they’ve been there for a very long time,” said Nichole Long, another Sundance resident.

Neighbors who spoke with WHSV said they were not alerted by the property owner that the boxes would be removed. They are also upset it was done with mail in many of the boxes.

“I did have mail in the box and it was laying out here on a public state road available to anyone to pillage, peruse, take, whatever they chose to do,” said Frazier. “I have medicine mailed there. What if my medicine had been in that box? By the grace of God, it wasn’t, but I’m 78 years old. I don’t need someone to deliberately with intent destroy my mailbox.”

Frazier has owned property in the community since 1993 and said the mailboxes have been on the same property the entire time she’s been a resident. She is worried about the impact not having mail delivered could have on her.

“At my age, I don’t have the resources. I’m on a fixed income, and I don’t have the mobility I had when I was 50, so it’s going to be a hardship for me,” she said.

Long said she was upset that the homeowner never reached out to her before moving and destroying her mailbox. She said she’d have been open to finding a place to move it to if he had.

“I know that he spoke to the community HOA, but they really didn’t have any authority over the mailboxes, so I think the respectful thing to do would have been to reach out to me, and I probably would have helped him, but sadly he chose to break the law,” she said.

WHSV spoke with the property owner who removed the mailboxes on Monday. He wished to remain anonymous but said that the mailboxes created a sight distance issue by blocking the view of the road when turning in and out of his driveway.

He claims he went through all of the proper channels to remove the boxes, saying he notified the HOA, the Post Office, and VDOT of his intentions.

The property owner did contact VDOT and its records show there is a perspective right of way easement for the road, giving them no authority to prevent him from removing the boxes.

However, tampering with or vandalizing a mailbox is a federal offense.

“It is a federal crime to tamper, destroy, vandalize any mailbox, and it’s a crime to destroy someone’s property,” said Long.

Neither the local postmaster nor the Shenandoah County Commonwealth’s Attorney could be reached for comment on the situation on Monday.

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