It lacks the sensationalism of the Hatton Garden safe deposit heist, or the shock value of a bank robbery, but the theft of post boxes is the latest crime wave shaking Tynedale.

The bizarre crime has been reported around the UK over recent years, and now the Tyne Valley’s authentic, wall-mounted postage points have become the latest to be targeted.

Despite police appeals and publicity campaigns, the mysterious disappearance of the three post boxes stolen from Hexham streets, and another attempted theft in the same area, remains unsolved.

Post boxes in rural locations are extremely important as the only method of dispatching mail for miles around, and replacing them can cost the Royal Mail up to £1,000 a time.

Legislation introduced by OFCOM in 2013 states there must be a post box within half a mile of more than 98 per cent of the UK population – a legal requirement that Royal Mail must stick to as the country’s universal postal service provider.

It’s hard not to enjoy the aesthetic beauty of authentic post boxes. Some date from the reign of King Edward VII, whereas others were installed during the Victorian era. Some early models were green and sported vertical slits, others are hexagonal in shape.

Whilst post boxes in the rural North Tyne are often isolated, the stolen, wall-mounted boxes in Hexham were located in residential streets.

Coun. Derek Kennedy, a Hexham Town Councillor and Northumberland County Councillor for Hexham West, said: “This is the first time I’ve heard of multiple thefts of post boxes. It’s obviously been done as one batch.

“It’s particularly shocking that this is taking place in broad daylight.

“I just think it’s unbelievable that someone would steal a post box, never mind four.”

Britain’s post box thieves are clearly a determined bunch. But why? Many believe the answer is profit.

Collectors are willing to pay hundreds of pounds for limited edition post boxes to add to their antiques collection.Websites such as eBay and Gumtree advertise second-hand post boxes for sale from £90 to £500

Before 2003, Royal Mail sold or auctioned off post boxes that were decommissioned, meaning they were legally sold off to antiques collectors.

Following the spate of thefts over the past few years, the Royal Mail has introduced electronic tagging and permanent marking to identify stolen post boxes.

The Letter Box Study Group is an active group devoted to the study of post boxes and a recognised authority on the subject.

Its priority is creating and maintaining a detailed directory of the nation’s 115,500 post boxes.

A spokesman for the group said: “There are around 200 post boxes stolen across the country per year.

“We often see a spate of thefts within a local area, suggesting that individuals are stealing within their local proximity.

“However, it’s unusual for wall boxes to be stolen, and they ought to be replaced with something similar,” he said.

A Royal Mail spokesman, said: “We can confirm that three post boxes were stolen from Maiden’s Walk, Beech Hill and Causey Hill in the Hexham area.

“This incident has been reported to the police, and anyone with any information should contact them.

“We apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused and we intend to replace all three post boxes.

“In the meantime, customers can use nearby boxes on Priestpopple, Westbourne Grove or Bishopton Way.”