Traffic sign thefts slow

Published 9:35 pm Thursday, April 22, 2010

Perhaps those who previously stole city traffic signs are taking the word “Stop” on some of them more seriously than before. Or they’re better aware of the consequences.

Clanton street and sanitation superintendent Dale Collins said no signs have been reported stolen since the recent wave of nine missing stop signs, deer crossing signs and bridge caution signs.

The nine signs were stolen from Hinkle Road, Samaria Road and Martha Street in the last month.

Collins said while no signs have been stolen, no one has turned any of the stolen city property back in, either. He has not received any tips as to who stole them.

He suspects young people, likely teenagers, tend to steal the signs due to boredom or plan to decorate their bedrooms with unique apparel. He said the lower number of thefts could be attributed to parents sending the message to their children.

Collins continues to monitor his own neighborhood and inform his neighbors who reassure him they keep their eyes open a little wider than usual.

He said the signs cost between $25-30 apiece, adding up to an expensive replacement bill fast. He wants to begin branding Clanton’s signs with information that would prove the stolen property belongs to the city.

To combat the sign thieves, the department is starting to use stronger bolts to keep the property firmly attached to the ground.

“Those bolts make it to where you can’t just take a wrench and undo it,” Collins said. “They’re more expensive, but every time you use a new technique to stop them, it gets more expensive.”

He said if anyone notices anyone attempting to steal a traffic sign or has any information on stolen property, they should call the police department or his office at 755-2164.

If a minor steals traffic signs, their parents are responsible and will suffer the consequences. Collins said if the culprit turns the property back in to the street and sanitation department, he or she will not face any charges.

If a person intentionally destroys, knocks down, removes or defaces a sign on a public road, he or she will be charged. The fine for that crime is $2,500 or more if the damage inflicted costs more than $500 to repair. If less than $500 to repair, the fine is less than $500. Those in possession of a traffic sign will be fined $50.

Parents of minors under 18 years old are liable for damages and court costs.

Minors convicted of damaging traffic signs will receive a court order to clean up the destruction or defacement.