FOLLY BEACH — A vandal who damaged mailboxes at the island’s post office over the weekend could face years in prison if caught and convicted.

Folly Beach residents all receive mail at a post office on East Indian Avenue. There, a few patrons discovered Sunday that someone had forced open several mailboxes.

Folly Beach public safety officers are investigating the vandalism with help from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service. Postal Service spokesman Harry Spratlin said 90 percent of such investigations end in convictions.

“They are an elite law enforcement team, and they are experts in the mail,” Spratlin said. “It’s an environment where they’re in control.”

Spratlin noted that getting in the way of proper mail delivery constitutes a federal crime.

Anyone who damages a postal box or who destroys the mail inside faces up to three years in prison, according to federal law. Someone who steals or destroys mail can face up to five years in prison.

Spratlin declined to comment on whether the Folly Beach case involved mail theft. Folly Beach Public Safety Chief Dennis Brown did not return phone calls Sunday or Monday.

Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/allysonjbird.