During Monday's Commissioners' Court meeting, one of the topics discussed by the group was the ongoing problem of sign theft.
There are many signs in the county. There are stop signs, yield signs, speed limit signs, and street signs. It seems that all of them hold an attraction for thieves, and the level at which they are disappearing seems to be escalating.
County Road Supervisor Squeaky Farmer told the Court that his crews had replaced five signs last Friday; but, by Monday morning, at least three of those signs had already been stolen. Street signs are, by a long shot, the favorite target. Since street signs often reflect family names, geographical sites, or just odd nomenclature, theives target them the most often. Additionally, they are some of the easiest to rip from their moorings, and they're small enough to be hidden easily while in transit to a new location.
Stop signs and other safety markers are also popular; but, thieves often push over the entire post to get to the sign, requiring a great deal more effort on the part of those having to replace them. Sometimes, the thieves turn into vandals, and they simply destroy the signs, then leave them behind as evidence of their remarkable skills!
I've walked into enough dorm rooms, and even the rooms of teenagers, to know that many of these signs end up tacked to walls and ceilings. They are momentos of a fun evening. Souvenirs of a night of madcap fun. They're just decoration.
Let's try running a couple of scenarios....
You're having a heart attack and you live at the end of Spice Creek Road. You tell the dispatcher to just follow the signs. The EMS rushes out, and luckily, know that Blackjack Road turns off of 386, even though that sign is missing. And then they travel down Blackjack, looking for Spice Creek. You told them it was just past Lange-Polk, but that sign is missing, as is the Spice Creek sign. The EMS crew loses ten minutes driving up and down the road, trying any routes they think might be promising. They arrive, but you've already suffered damage. At least they were in time to save your life.
Too depressing? Ask the EMS how frustrating it is for them when they can't locate you in an emergency!
Let's try another scenario.
You're out for a leisurely drive on the county roads. You head east on Pontotoc, on past Gooch Cemetery, further out past Broad Street. You figure that you'll simply head over to the very end, then turn south, come out by TX DOT, and head back into town. As you near Johnson Road, you don't slow down, since YOU know that motorists on Johnson Road have stop signs from both directions when they reach Pontotoc.
The problem is, someone stole those stop signs, and the car driving down that road this day has some tourists who took a wrong turn. They're watching the road, but don't even notice that there is an intersection ahead. You will meet them, but there will be no pleasantries exchanged!
If you steal a sign, it is a crime. If someone is injured or killed because of your theft, the severity of the crime goes up. Even if you don't get caught, you'll have to live with the knowledge that what you did caused harm to another human being. Someone you know. Perhaps even someone you're related to, and that you care about.
Parents, talk to your kids and explain why sign theft isn't funny. Kids, if you want a sign, check with the county or state about old, used signs. In the words of a popular comic... "Here's Your Sign!"
It’s all just my opinion, but it’s what I wish would happen.