Google results point to everything from burglars and dog thieves to government agents as the culprits for sticking colored dots on the mailboxes.

“The first thing that came up was a ring to abduct small dogs,” Kathy Olinger told News 2.  While checking her mail one evening, she noticed a red dot on the box.  That prompted the Google search.

“This article said that thieves were looking for small-breed dogs to steal and sell,” she recalled. 

It was frightening because she owns a small, black Yorkshire terrier.

Articles online claim a variety of colored dots correspond to a variety of groups looking to do harm.  Most of the articles claim a scout marks a home so others can come back later and implement their plans to steal from or harm the homeowners.

When a green dot appeared on another woman’s mailbox in North Charleston, she asked News 2 to investigate.

USPS said they aren’t responsible for the stickers. They directed News 2 to the local newspapers. As it turns out, the color-coded stickers correspond to the different subscriptions and publications. According to the Home Delivery Manager at the Post and Courier, the dots are reflective and help newspaper carriers identify who receives a paper overnight.

For example, a blue dot indicates a Wednesday/Sunday subscription.  A white dot denotes a home that should receive both a Post and Courier and a WSJ.

It’s a revelation for Kathy, who recently replaced her mailbox.

“We were just getting random newspapers in our driveway, and I didn’t know why. We weren’t paying for them,” she explained.  “And now we don’t get them anymore.”  

The dots most often appear on mailboxes along rural roads or in places where it’s hard to see addresses.