BILLINGS — It was a bad weekend to be a mailbox in the Billings Heights.
Multiple homeowners reported that their mailboxes had been vandalized either early Sunday or early Monday morning, including one that was completely destroyed.
"This part was in our lawn," said homeowner Eric Shideler while holding his banged-up mailbox, "and the front door was in our neighbor’s driveway."
Shideler and his wife didn’t hear a thing from their basement bedroom on Maurine Street as they slept early Monday, but their neighbors sure did.
"Apparently the neighbors heard an explosion about 1:30 a.m.," he said. "The next morning, I came outside and noticed the mailbox was all in pieces on my lawn.”
The explosion was strong enough to send the back of the mailbox onto the other side of his roof.
Brook Pace woke up Sunday morning to his mailbox post completely ripped out of the ground in front of his house on Matador Avenue.
"I just happened to look out and see it laying sideways on the street," he said.
He spent much of the next two days cleaning up the mess, with plenty more still to do.
"I'm working on fixing this one, if not replacing it completely," said Pace. "I'm also considering switching to brick."
He even had to put his mail on hold, with no mailbox to receive it.
A couple of miles away on Lonesome Pine Lane, Tamela Deim woke up to even more damage.
"(The mailbox) landed on the opposite side of the driveway," she said, "so they had to hit it pretty hard."
Deim believes her mailbox and post were hit by a vehicle after seeing tire tracks in the lawn leading up to it. It’s the third time the box has been hit, but this is by far the worst.
"We felt like it was (intentional) because it seems like the tires spun right next to it, like they were aiming for it," she said. "And then I just thought, ‘Why ours?’”
None of the three filed a police report because they either thought it was an isolated incident or had no leads on a suspect. None have security cameras posted outside their homes. Billings police have only received two vandalism calls to mailboxes this month, both from fireworks.
If a suspect is caught, they could face a huge penalty because mailbox vandalism is a federal crime. Each act is punishable by up to a $250,000 fine and three years in jail.
But Shideler doesn’t have much hope of that. He installed his new box Tuesday, just another chore on the list.
"It is what it is - homeownership," he said with a laugh.