After a rash of thefts involving street signs, Marion County Judge John Massey had issued a public plea expressing the dangers created by the vandals.
“Sign theft can compound into problems,” says Massey. Stealing an electric fence warning sing can get someone electrocuted. Stealing a street sign can cause emergency services workers to get lost, putting lives and property at risk.”
The judge adds property owners can also have problems caused by sign theft. By law, property owners are required to warn their guests of hidden hazards and failure to warn can lead to a lawsuit.
There are also plenty of legal ramifications of sign theft.
“If someone gets hurt because of the sign theft, the thief can be sued or even criminally prosecuted for the consequences,” says Judge Massey. “You may not think it can happen to you, but if you get caught stealing a street sign, you will get charged with theft of property. This offense is a Class A misdemeanor, which can put you in county jail for up to one year and/or a fine up to $2,500.”
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“In most cases, sign theft is a misdemeanor, and the penalty is a fine and potentially up to a year in jail,” Massey explains. “But if you steal lots of signs, that can cross the line into felony theft that will put you in state prison for up to six years, as well as leaving you paying fines and restitution.”
Sign theft negatively impacts the taxpayers, who must foot the bill for replacing the stolen items. A sign can cost between $30-$124 – depending on the type of signage. But the cost of the labor and reinstalling the post and anchor make signs more expensive.
The judge encourages anyone seeing activity related to sign theft to contact local or county law enforcement, as well as city or county, depending on the location of the sign.