A community has a row of mailboxes, as opposed to a mailbox at each address. This is common in the rural USA. Since the covid-19 pandemic, people occasionally drive by and steal the mail.

Several homeowners have since gotten locking mailboxes, and one considered putting up a webcam at the site as a deterrent. What's the law here?

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    @Richard please don’t answer in comments – Dale M Feb 14 at 20:16
  • This might be better in state regulations. – Trish Feb 14 at 21:31
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    Would the planned camera be inside a box, or mounted on top of a box, or somewhere such as across the street where it had a view of the boxes? In the latter case the question of who owns the boxes would not arise. – David Siegel Feb 15 at 13:29
  • Good questions. The goal would be to get photos of face and license plate, so putting the camera on a nearby tree would probably work best. – Al Lelopath Feb 15 at 14:58

There is no mailbox-specific law. You can take pictures in public, and you can put a camera to take pictures on your property. Whether you can install a camera in a particular place depends on who owns that place. Of course, you also can't aim it to peer into a nearby residence; and it has to be a video-only camera (unattended recording of audio is illegal without the consent of the thief). In some cases, mega-boxes are owned by the USPS so you would need USPS permission. There is a widespread false narrative that the USPS owns all mailboxes, but the USPS does not say that nor does the US Code. USPS describes two kinds of cluster-boxes, private and USPS-owned. The USPS offers no statements on permission or its denial to install a cameras inside a USPS-owned box, so you would have to ask the local post office in case your box is USPS-owned.

  • Thanks for your reply. To clarify: These are not cluster-boxes, just a row of individual boxes. Not in front of a house. I guess on the right-of-way of a county road. – Al Lelopath Feb 14 at 23:22

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