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US Postal Service updates drive-through boxes in Billings to boost security

Mail Drop
Posted at 5:21 PM, Apr 18, 2024

BILLINGS - The US Postal Service is upgrading drive-through mailboxes around the country in an effort to combat mail theft.

The agency is currently installing 10,000 new boxes, which face the opposite direction and have smaller entries. Some of those new boxes can be seen in Billings on the west end at the Centennial post office.

In the Billings Heights, at the Ronald Reagan office on Wicks Lane, the process of adding the new boxes is at a halt, after vandalism damaged the current one, rendering it useless. For 77-year-old Heights resident Jim Berg, the loss of the drive-through option has been difficult.

"I've always dropped my mail off at the post office," Berg said. "But I'm not the young man I used to be and getting in and out of my truck can be difficult."

Berg said the drive-through box has been out of order for nearly two months, making it challenging for him and others to drop off their mail.

"It's just one of these small frustrating things that makes life a little tougher for people that are mobility impaired," Berg said.

Another Heights resident, Laquita Andrews, doesn't struggle with mobility but did express empathy to those similar to Berg.

"Just trying to get out of your car in bad weather or hip surgeries," Andrews said. "That would make it hard."

The US Postal Service did confirm that a work order was in on the drive-through boxes in the Heights, but residents probably won't like the new boxes any better. Because of the security changes, the boxes face the other direction, which forces drivers to exit their vehicle to make drops.

"I hate to complain, but it is convenient to just drive through instead of get out of your car," Andrews said.

US Postal Service communications employee Kim Frum said a lot of thought went into the new boxes, and the agency is keen on preventing a problem called fishing, which is when people use sticky substances attached to a line to steal mail from the box.

"It's all about protecting the mail and making the mail more safe," Frum said in a online call Thursday. "You'll still be able to fit mail into the opening, but it'll make it much more difficult to pull contents out."

Still, the change means the days of mailing a letter without leaving your car are a thing of the past, which makes trips to the post office much more difficult for residents like Berg.

"I see people older than me that are just barely moving and having to park and get inside the post office," Berg said.

"Our small conveniences get ruined because people are careless and making bad decisions," Andrews said.