Nancy Benson and her greyhound were heading out for their afternoon stroll when she noticed something peculiar.

“Someone had stuffed my mail into the crack of my front door,” she says. “I thought it was odd, but figured that a neighbor had just received my mail by accident and was kind enough to return it to my front door.”

Unfortunately, this was no act of neighborly kindness. The mailman had left her mail there because her entire mailbox had been stolen.

“They took the whole thing up out of the ground,” she says. “And they must have worked quite some time to get it because it was pretty deep in the ground. They must have had to rock it back and forth for a while to get it loose enough to pull out.”

Benson says she’s thankful the thief did not get away with any of her mail, but she is a little sad to lose her mailbox.

“It was made of metal and very pretty,” she says. “It had been there for 12 years and nobody ever bothered it.”

But Benson keeps a sense of humor about it all.

“The only satisfaction I get was that the mailbox leaked every time it rained,” she says. “So whoever is using my mailbox now, I hope they get wet mail.”

Benson says she was surprised to learn that she has not been the only victim of such an odd crime.

“The mailman told me that the same thing happened a few streets over,” she says. “So I guess there is just a mailbox thief on the loose in this neighborhood. I have no idea why anyone would want to steal mailboxes, especially empty ones.”

Benson may be stumped by the thief’s motive to steal, but Dallas Police Sr. Cpl. Donna Hernandez says she can make an educated guess.

“A lot of people have been stealing metal mailboxes recently because they sell them to scrap yards,” she said. “It’s a relatively new crime trend we are seeing. Cast iron mailboxes are especially sought after because they are worth the most.”

Hernandez says there are a few things homeowners can do to prevent a mailbox burglary.

“Make sure it is set in concrete, deep under the ground,” she says, “or better yet go with a mailbox that is not made of metal. There are plenty of good, ornamental mailboxes out there that aren’t made from metal and that way, you won’t have to worry about someone wanting to steal it.”