STANDING proud on the side of the Northern Highway north of Rochester, a steel Ned Kelly letterbox had become an icon for the area.
But in the early hours of Boxing Day, the 250 kilogram letterbox was stolen.
It was last seen on the back of a ute heading towards Bridgewater, when travellers noticed the unique creation looking back at them from the tray.
Little did they know Ned had been taken from his pride of place next to the highway.
The letterbox was a gift to property owner Max Nelson from his engineer son, who built it from quarter plate steel fours ago.
Mr Nelson said in those four years, the letterbox had become an icon for people heading from Rochester to Echuca on the Northern Highway.
“You have people stopping every day to take photos of it, it really brought a lot of pleasure to people passing through,” he said.
“Even the day before it was stolen there were people stopping to have a look.
“It became an icon for the town. I doubt there would be any other similar letterboxes of its calibre.”
His son was likely to have spent days on the letterbox, which stood 137 centimetres tall and was secured to a block of concrete metres from the roadside.
Made of steel, at least several people would have been needed to move the letterbox.
It also had an estimated value of $4000, but its sentimental value to both the Nelson family and the Rochester community was priceless.
Mr Nelson said people need to have more respect for the property of others.
“It’s disappointing that people think they can just take people’s stuff that isn’t their’s,” he said.
“The police have been very, very good since it was reported. They’re as annoyed as we are that it’s been stolen.”
The letterbox was last seen at 3am on Boxing Day, but was gone by 7am.
Anyone with information about the theft can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.