Over the past year, the county has taken action to mitigate a growing problem in the county: people stealing E-911 signs and running over the signs. Road crews are frequently remaking and replacing various signs that are stolen.
“These signs are being stolen daily sometimes,” stated County Road Manager Brian Dace. “When I say that, we could put up a sign today and it be gone sometime the next day. Most of the time, it’s gone within a couple of days.”
The county has to make the signs and pay for the workers to install the new signs each time. Unfortunately, this is very costly for the county. The signs that are being stolen or run over the most are the E-911 signs on the stop signs. These signs could cost up to around $68 or more to replace each time. With labor and all, it is estimated that close to $200 or more is spent on each sign. This means that with around 40 signs going missing each month, the county is having to spend close to $8,000 a month just to replace stolen signs or fix run over E-911 signs.
With the cost of inflation lately, the cost of fixing the road signs and other things on the road could result in a tax increase for the citizens of Clarke County just to keep up with the rising prices. While it may only be $8,000 a month to fix right now, rising costs could make that amount increase over the upcoming months.
Naturally there are some areas that see sign theft more than others.
“We see a lot of signs taken in the County Road 420 area,” stated Dace. “We have some in District 5, which is the 600, 630, 632 area. Those are the main areas that are worse than anywhere else. We find them down all the time where people hit them, but it really seems like the northeast part of the county in District 4 is where we seem to be having the worst problem. We are seeing the problem all over the county, however.”
According to Sheriff Todd Kemp, stealing signs is classified as a misdemeanor. Anyone who is caught stealing a sign will be charged.
There is also a fine that can be charged to anyone who steals a sign thanks to an ordinance set by the Clarke County Board of Supervisors years ago.
“About 20 years ago or so, we set about a $500 fine,” said Supervisor Paul Mosley.
Steps are now being taken to catch those responsible for taking the signs.
“We have cameras located strategically throughout the county, and we’re going to catch some of the sign stealing as well as people dumping trash,” explained Dace.
Some people have already been caught, and there will be more people caught later on.
Anyone who has been stealing signs in the county is encouraged to stop. Until then, law enforcement officers and county employees will continue to take the appropriate steps to identify and detain the culprits.