By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer
Q: My wife and I are extremely concerned about the growing problem of identity theft. After years of living in a complex with "keyed" mailboxes, we are moving to a house with a standard, non-secure box. Short of getting a post office box, what can I do?
A: If you're averse to getting a P.O. box, you could install a locked mailbox with a slotted delivery opening. You can buy them at your local home improvement store or make one yourself.
There are no regulations pertaining specifically to locked mailboxes, said Lynne Moore, manager of consumer affairs and claims at the U.S. Postal Service's Honolulu office. However, she said, they should follow standard mailbox construction guidelines that stipulate they should be installed at least 4 feet off the ground and set back at least 8 inches from the front face of the curb.
A recent check at one local home improvement store showed a variety of locked boxes available ranging in price from about $20 to $100.
Moore said it's also a good idea to talk to your local postmaster or delivery supervisor about any conditions or issues that are specific to your neighborhood. If you live in a subdivision with an active association of owners, you may also want to check with its board about possible guidelines restricting what you can put up.
A drawback to going with a locked, slotted mailbox is that it will limit the size of the envelopes or other material you can have delivered, so make sure the slot is large enough to accommodate most of your regular mail or you will be making frequent trips to your neighborhood post office, Moore said.
Post office boxes typically cost about $35 for six months, although those in rural areas may start as low as $24 a month, Moore said.
But the simplest way to avoid many mail theft issues is to remove mail from your mailbox as quickly as possible, she said.
Q: Is it permissible for a vehicle with a visible "for sale" sign to be stored or parked long-term on a public street? Would such a vehicle need a current registration?
A: It is against the city Traffic Code to park a vehicle on the road for the principal purpose of displaying it for sale. It makes no difference if it is registered or not. Honolulu Police Department Capt. Jose Gaytan of the Traffic Division said police will cite vehicles with visible "for sale" signs. What's more, if a vehicle in violation of that section has been parked for more than 24 hours, it could also get ticketed for an abandoned vehicle violation, Gaytan said.
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