Sign Theft: A Surprisingly Dangerous Crime


Use Drive Rivet to Stop Signs Theft

We’ve all seen it: a stolen street sign hung in somebody’s dorm room or basement. It’s a standby for college students. Sign theft is distressingly common.  But it’s still a crime.

Of course, sign theft can compound into other problems. Steal an electric fence warning sign, and someone can get electrocuted. Steal a street sign, and emergency services workers can get lost, putting lives and property at risk. And if someone gets hurt because of the sign theft, the thief can be sued or even criminally prosecuted for the consequences.
In most cases, sign theft is  a misdemeanor, and the penalty is a fine and potentially up to a year in jail. But if you steal lots of signs, that can cross the line into grand larceny, which is a felony that will put you in state prison, as well as leaving you paying fines and restitution. (In New York, petty larceny is theft of property valued at $1000 or less; grand larceny is theft of property valued over $1000.)   Property owners can also have problems caused by sign theft. By law, property owners are required to warn their guests of hidden hazards on their properties, and failure to warn can lead to a lawsuit.

Sign theft also negatively affects taxpayers, who must foot the bill for replacing signs — often at more than the initial cost. It can cost over $500 to buy and reinstall a simple stop sign!

Of course, sign theft can compound into other problems.  Steal an electric fence warning sign, and someone can get electrocuted.  Steal a street sign, and emergency services workers can get lost, putting lives and property at risk.  And if someone gets hurt because of the sign theft, the thief can be sued or even criminally prosecuted for the consequences.

So how can we deter individuals from stealing signs? Here are a few ideas:

1) Put scofflaws on notice. Individuals alter their behavior if they feel like they are being watched.

    

 

        

3) Place street signs higher and out of reach. While not a guaranteed deterrent, this will at least discourage some criminals. This is a bit more difficult in suburbs than in cities, though, due to power lines and trees.

4) Avoid placing street sign poles in soft earth. A common sign removal tactic is to locate a sign pole stuck in soft earth and rock it back and forth until it dislodges. This makes the actual sign removal easier. Instead, try placing the pole in concrete.

5) Avoid weird or funny street names with “unique wording” such as “High Drive” and “Lois Lane.” Instead, numbered streets like “First” or “Third” might be less appealing to thieves.

6) Use tamper-proof and heavy-duty attachment hardware. Make it tough to steal a sign. Most street signs are stolen by someone hanging on the edge of the sign and using their weight to break off the brackets or bolts used. Our Nob Hill brackets are almost impossible to break off – and have been used by cities for generations.

Heavy-duty attachment hardware makes it much harder to steal signage.

Heavy-duty attachment hardware makes it much harder to steal signage.

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