Sign thefts dangerous, also nuisance

Published 5:00 am Monday, March 30, 2009

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor hail nor snow can stop those benton stealing “road closed” signs – apparently.

Lincoln County officials are irritated after around 25 “RoadClosed” signs have been stolen from flooded roads in the southeastquadrant of the county following last week’s storms, said DistrictThree Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson.

“It’s always been a problem, and I don’t know the answer,” hesaid.

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Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey said the shenanigans maybe all in fun to the sign thieves, but that lives are potentiallyat risk.

“It’s very unsafe because even though the people that live hereknow when the roads flood … people from out of town, they’d haveno idea,” Galey said. “If they come around a corner in the dark andthe sign’s gone … there’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Both Galey and Williamson said if the sign thieves are caught,they will be punished, not only for the safety problems they arecausing, but also for the cost to the county.

“It’s aggravating and it costs taxpayers, because if I can’t getto it I have to call county workers out. And it’s overtime andtaxpayers have to pay for it,” Williamson said.

But it’s not just the cost of labor that irritates countyofficials. There’s the cost of the signs, between $30 and $50 ifthey’re bought without a stand, which Williamson does since he canmake them himself.

Bought with the stands, however, the cost is around $100 to $125each. And once those are stolen, even more time and money aretacked on when the supervisor himself has to go to town to buycaution tape to block the roads where the signs should havestayed.

“When they were making the rounds, the deputies even found thetape torn down,” Williamson said. “It’s ridiculous. It would besimpler if people would just leave the signs alone.”