Road sign crimes costly for taxpayersDavison County highway superintendent says losses run about $4,000 annually.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Davison County Highway Superintendent Rusty Weinberg told the county commissioners recently that vandalism to county road signs is costing county taxpayers about $4,000 a year.
Weinberg had complained in earlier commission meetings that damage and theft was particularly bad in northwestern townships.
Since then, the worst offenses have occurred near Loomis, Weinberg said, with several recent offenses in the Ethan area.
It’s not exactly clear why the signs are being stolen or defaced, Weinberg said, and it’s not just the signs that being targeted, but the entire sign as a package.
“They just wrap a chain or tow rope around it and pull the whole thing out — the entire metal post and sign and everything,” he said.
Shot-up signs have been another longstanding problem in the county. Weinberg said signs punctured by rifle fire can continue to be used with a few bullet holes but a sign blasted by shotgun pellets becomes totally useless.
There’s no evidence, at least locally, that the signs and posts are being stolen for their metal content. Weinberg believes the signs are more likely being taken for their decorative potential. Many end up in homes or on dorm room walls, he said.
Of greater concern, Weinberg said, is the possibility that a missing sign might be the cause of a serious, or fatal, traffic accident.
According to the highway department, a typical 30-by-30 inch stop sign costs about $47, and the larger 36-by-36 inch model costs $67. The square steel posts required to mount either sign costs $30 — plus the cost of installation.
Davison County Chief Deputy Steve Harr said either taking or damaging a sign is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable with one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Harr said deputies automatically arrest anyone found with a road sign.
“We often find ‘Yield,’ ‘Railroad Crossing’ and other signs hanging on walls as decorations,” he said, though deputies arrested one driver after finding a road sign in his pickup. All such signs are confiscated.
Convicted offenders must pay any penalties plus the costs of repairing or replacing the sign, Harr said.
Anyone with information on sign vandalism or theft should call 995-8630 to report the crime, Harr said.