Historic post boxes are vanishing in rural areas, prompting fears that thieves are stealing them for collectors.
Nine Royal Mail boxes have disappeared from villages in Suffolk and Norfolk since January 7.
The first was in Rickinghall, Suffolk, with eight others then taken over a ten-day period.
Historic post boxes are vanishing in rural areas, prompting fears that thieves are stealing them for collectors (file photo used)
Detectives say the thieves are targeting heritage-style post boxes, which are often sold at auction for thousands of pounds.
Sgt Brian Calver, of Suffolk Police, said: ‘We know that these are quite valuable and attractive for their antique/collectable resale value, but…they could be going for their scrap metal value as well.’
Norfolk Police said their stolen boxes have the Royal Cypher ‘GR’ on them, indicating they were installed during the reign of King George V or George VI.
A spokesman for Royal Mail said it was ‘working hard to replace the missing boxes’.
Sgt Calver added: ‘Such thefts are a big loss of heritage and identity to the village from where they are stolen from.
‘There is also the personal disruption such a theft could cause to individuals who have posted important letters and documents and, that as a consequence, are then sadly lost.
Detectives have linked the latest thefts to the disappearance of the postbox in Ructon Holme, Norfolk, on December 21 last year.
Antique dealer Patrick Cowell said there was ‘a large international market’ for Royal Mail postboxes.
Norfolk Police said their stolen boxes have the Royal Cypher ‘GR’ on them, indicating they were installed during the reign of King George V or George VI (file photo)
He told the BBC: ‘I was surprised to look online and find some for sale at up to four figure sums and one or two going into five figures, which seemed pretty crazy to me.’
A Royal Mail spokesman said: ‘We are aware that there has been a number of thefts of postboxes in parts of Suffolk and Norfolk. Royal Mail has over 115,000 postboxes across the UK and the theft of postboxes is relatively rare.
‘However, Royal Mail takes the issue very seriously, and works closely with law enforcement agencies to prevent the unlawful removal of postboxes.
‘We also deploy preventative measures and technologies to deter theft. These measures include forensic tags, permanent metal marking systems and electronic tracking.
‘In the event that a crime is committed, these features can help our investigators to identify and trace stolen property as well as potential offenders.’
The roadside post box was introduced in Britain following the 1840 postal reform which provided for affordable postage.
Today at least 98 per cent of the population lives within half a mile of one.
Source: Daily Mail UK