SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Road and street signs continue to disappear in the City of Sylacauga and it is starting to become a problem. To discuss ways to prevent these acts from continuing, Mayor Jim Heigl and Police Chief Kelley Johnson met in the mayor’s office Thursday afternoon.
In the minds of many, this may not sound serious, But when it keeps happening the dollars and cents start to add up.
“Each sign costs the City around $100 when you talk about the sign, hardware and pole,” said Johnson. “It gets costly and it’s tax dollars. It’s money that everyone pays into the system.”
According to Johnson, around 100 signs have been stolen in the last few years, but the City has seen an increase as of late. One specific sign has recently been stolen and replaced at least 14 times.
The types of signs that typically go missing are street markers with catchy names, like Player Circle, but stop signs and other common road signs have been stolen as well.
Teenagers and young adults are the usual suspects in cases like these. Johnson said teens like to hang the signs in bedrooms or above their door. Johnson is asking everyone in the community to keep their eyes open, and report anyone they see stealing or destroying street signs.
Mayor Heigl reemphasized Johnson’s statement and said police will need the peoples’ help to stop this crime continuing.
In a press release Thursday, Johnson stated, “The theft or destruction of this city property constitutes Theft of Property 4th Degree or Criminal Mischief 3rd Degree. Both of these charges are Class “A” Misdemeanors which if found guilty can have a sentence of up to one (1) year in the county jail and/or fine. It is also a crime to possess a sign. Receiving Stolen Property 3rd Degree can be charged for possessing our street signs. This charge is also a Class “A” Misdemeanor punishable by up to one (1) year service in the county jail and/or fine.”
“If we run into someone with these signs, they’re going to face the charge of theft of property or receiving stolen property.” said Johnson. “No one should have a street sign in their house.”
Discussion of how to stop these acts from occurring was a min talking point between Heigl and Johnson.
The two discussed the possibility of extra patrols in areas that have been affected the most, and Heigl even mentioned camera surveillance as a possible deterrent.
The City may also face penalties from the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) if signs continue to disappear. Sylacauga is currently under mandate from the federal DOT that requires road signs to meet new specifications. If all signs in the City do not meet the new requirements the City could face fines and the withholding of federal funding for future projects.
Johnson also pointed out that street signs are instrumental when dealing with emergency vehicles. “With a sign stolen or damaged, there could be delays in getting services to a specific address that could potentially be life threatening to citizens.”
Jeremy Law for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2017, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.