Spike in Toronto mailbox vandalism leaves fewer snail mail options

A vandalism spree has put many mailboxes out of commission in the country's biggest city, Canada Post says.

"We have recently experienced a rapid and unprecedented increase in vandalism to our street letterboxes in Toronto," spokeswoman Lisa Liu said in an email.

The spike has prompted the Crown corporation to wrap dozens of the signature red rectangles in plastic to keep customers from depositing mail in damaged or unsecured boxes.

"In response, we have ramped up our processes to perform repairs and replace boxes where necessary as quickly as possible," Liu said. Until those processes are completed, the affected mailboxes remain swathed in industrial shrink-wrap.

The Canada Post investigations team is working with Toronto police and other local authorities to look into the incidents, and is also reviewing its "street equipment" to enhance their security, Liu said.

North Toronto resident Ian Urquhart said he's seen about two dozen taped-off boxes within a two-kilometre radius of his house.

"I can't say it's a terrible inconvenience, I just think it's very strange. I've never seen this before except during a postal strike," he said.

"I'm sure it might be a problem for some other people who are less mobile."

Canada Post apologized for any inconvenience and said it hopes to have defective mailboxes back in operation "shortly."

In the meantime, those sending mail can use the nearest post office.

The problem surfaced on social media earlier this month when a man was caught on camera pocketing envelopes from a tipped-over mailbox in broad daylight at the corner of Bay and Bloor streets in Toronto's Yorkville neighbourhood.

Toronto police spokesman Const. Victor Kwong said he was not aware of an uptick in mail theft.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2023.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press