The latest crime wave up and down the UK? People painting mailboxes gold

Royal Mail has pleaded with the public to  stop taking matters into their own hands by painting its postboxes in honour of  Team GB’s medal winners.

The company spoke out as its initial gesture  to colour postboxes gold in recognition of our Olympic winners looked in danger  of spiralling out of control.

However, it appears it has a confused  approach to the problem as today it allowed one ‘illegally’ painted box to  remain gold.

Arrested: Rob Smith, 51, poses next to the postbox he painted gold in the Hampshire town where Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie lives. He was held by police on suspicion of criminal damage and released on bail

Arrested: Rob Smith, 51, poses next to the postbox he  painted gold in the Hampshire town where Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie lives. He  was held by police on suspicion of criminal damage but then released

A post box in Lymington, Hampshire, where gold-medal sailor Ben Ainslie lives, was  painted gold without the company’s  authorisation.

Rob Smith, 54, was arrested  but later released without charge and at the same time Royal Mail performed a  U-turn and announced that the postbox would keep its new golden colour.

Another box, in Doddington, Lincolnshire, was  painted bronze to congratulate the  British  women’s hockey team, who beat New Zealand in a third-place  play-off.

A Royal Mail spokeswoman told the Guardian:  ‘We understand the sentiment  and congratulate the women’s hockey team on their  achievement.

‘However,  we’d rather people left the  painting of postboxes to us. We are liaising with our engineers to ensure that  it is repainted red as soon as  possible.’

Mr Smith decided to paint the Lymington  postbox in an apparent protest that Royal Mail had instead chosen to paint one  gold in Cornwall, where Ainslie was brought up.

Mr Smith, who owns a bar and restaurant at  Lymington Yacht Haven, described the climbdown as a victory for common  sense.

He said: ‘I’m over the moon. It’s all I ever  wanted for Ben, for Lymington, and  everyone who has supported the campaign.

‘Thousands of people wanted the post box to  be painted gold – I’m just the person who  did it.

‘I’m so glad now it’s going to be done  officially. I think the Royal Mail has  been swayed by public opinion and has taken a very sensible  decision.’

The four-time Olympic gold medallist has  lived in the Hampshire coastal  town for 12 years and is an honorary life member  of the Royal Lymington  Yacht Club.

Explaining it’s U-turn, a Royal Mail  spokesman said: ‘There’s been a huge amount of interest  in this.

‘We understand the depth of feeling involved  as Ben is a local hero and sailing is very much part of the Lymington  community. Ben loves the gold post box in  Restronguet but would love to have one in Lymington  as well and we’re happy to oblige.’

A Facebook campaign backing a golden postbox  in Lymington attracted more than 1,700 supporters.

Ainslie also described Mr Smith as a ‘legend  of Lymington’ for painting the box gold.

It was latest in a long line of incidents  over the last fortnight.

Fans of Olympic bronze medal boxer Anthony  Ogogo struck in his hometown of Lowestoft in Suffolk.

A painter touches up a postbox that had been vandalised after being painted gold by Royal Mail in Jessica Ennis's home city of Sheffield to celebrate her Olympic triumph

A painter touches up a postbox that had been vandalised  after being painted gold by Royal Mail in Jessica Ennis’s home city of Sheffield  to celebrate her Olympic triumph

Emblazoned with ‘Congratulations Ogogo!  Olympic bronze medalist’, the fishing town’s first-ever Olympic bronze medalist  is thrilled.

A postbox that was painted gold in Jessica  Ennis’s home city to celebrate her Olympic triumph has also been  vandalised.

And a pensioner who painted a postbox gold in  honour of Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee has branded Royal Mail  ‘miserable’ after it quickly covered over his handiwork.

Peter Moran, 82, was inspired to pick up a  paintbrush after watching his neighbours the Brownlee brothers secure the gold  and bronze medals in the gruelling triathlon last Tuesday.

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