Road sign thefts still plague county

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Lincoln County officials say there is no logical reason for it,but the theft of 911 address and county road signs continues topresent problems.

“I can’t understand for the life of me why a ‘civilized’ personwould do stupid things like this,” said Lincoln County Sheriff LynnBoyte. “They’re playing with people’s lives when they do stuff likethis.”

District 3 Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson expressed similarconcerns. While a missing road sign could be just an inconveniencefor a person from out of town and unfamiliar with county roads, itcould present more serious problems if the missing sign causes adelay in ambulance or other emergency personnel response time.

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“That could mean a life,” Williamson said.

Williamson said all supervisors are dealing with the sign theftproblem, which he said, seems to come in spurts.

The supervisor mentioned a Friday incident when he placedcaution signs out to warn truckers and others about the closedoverhead bridge in Bogue Chitto. Signs were placed far enough awayso motorists could take alternate routes, but the signs were not inplace long.

“I came through there 20 minutes later and all the signs weregone, stands and all,” Williamson said. “That really got meperturbed.”

Last weekend, Williamson said he had to replace about 30 addressand road signs. He was appreciative of people informing him whenthe signs were down.

“People are pretty good about letting you know when the 911signs are down,” the supervisor said.

Replacing signs, though, can be a costly endeavor.

Williamson said a 24-inch stop sign used by the county costsaround $30 while the post is another $7 or $8. The state useslarger, 36-inch signs, and he estimated those to cost around$50.

“We’re responsible for all signs except those on statehighways,” Williamson said.

Even “men working” signs have been taken, Williamson said. Healso mentioned a creek where he sees a number of Pike Countysigns.

While the problem is readily evident, a solution has been moreelusive.

Williamson said more public education on the importance of thesigns is one answer. He indicated another answer would have muchmore tragic consequences in the form of a death or injury to aloved one.

“I guess a person doesn’t think about it until it comes home,”Williamson said.

Boyte said his department is stretched across the countyresponding to a variety of calls, so catching sign bandits istough. The sheriff said time is limited, but putting out a sign as”bait,” making an arrest and putting a culprit in jail would getthe message out.

“That would bring it to a halt for a while,” Boyte said.

Boyte said sign theft would be a misdemeanor with a fine of $50to $500. Tacking on some road clean up time would also getsomeone’s attention.

“I think we could get a judge to put a week or two of communityservice on top of that,” the sheriff said.