Street sign theft
Street sign theft occurs when street signs are stolen, often to be used as decorations, but also sometimes to avoid obeying the law by claiming later the sign was not there.Fact|date=January 2008 Although the theft often seems arbitrary, unusual or amusing signs tend to be stolen more frequently. Sometimes considered to be a
prankby the perpetrators, the theft is often costly and inconveniencing for the municipality or agency that owns the sign. In the United States, each street sign generally costs between $100 and $500 to replace. [ [http://www.eagletribune.com/punews/local_story_210093908?page=0 The cost of Vandalism: Time, frustration and cash] . Zach Church, "Eagle-Tribune". July 29, 2007.] [ [http://www.trafficsign.us/signcost.html Manual of Traffic Signs] Richard C. Mouer]
Popular culture can act as a catalyst to street sign theft. Popular bands
The Beatlesand Lynyrd Skynyrdhave inadvertently perpetuated street sign theft as their songs and albums include real place names including Penny Lane, Blue Jay Way, Abbey Road, and Brickyard Road. Jeff Foxworthyhas alluded to street sign theft being a family hobby as a sign one "might be a redneck".
In most jurisdictions, the theft of traffic signage is treated like any other theft with respect to prosecution and sentencing. If, however, the theft leads to an injury, then the thieves may be found criminally liable. In one notable United States case, Nissa Baillie, Thomas Miller, and Christopher Cole were found guilty of
manslaughterfor stealing a stop signand thereby causing a deadly collision. [ [http://www.cnn.com/US/9706/20/stop.sign/index.html Defendants get 15-year Prison Sentences for stop-sign killings] . CNN Interactive. June 20, 1997. Access date: July 29, 2007.] [ [http://www.sptimes.com/News/052401/Hillsborough/Stop_sign_group_chall.shtml Stop-sign group challenges sentence] . St. Petersburg times, March 24, 2001] [Baillie, Cole, and Miller were sentenced to between 27 and 46 years in prison, but would go free after only five years after a judge ordered a retrial due to the prosecutor overemphasizing certain evidence in her closing arguments. The prosecution declined to bring the case a second time. [http://www.usroads.com/journals/rilj/0110/ri011001.htm] [http://www.sptimes.com/News/052201/TampaBay/Suddenly__stop_sign_c.shtml] ] This was publicized in the novel "Driver's Ed" by Caroline B. Cooney.
Some jurisdictions place stickers on street signs warning of the legal punishment for their theft. Most cities use unique and specially designed bolts to attach signs and prevent removal.fact|date=September 2008
Popular culture examples
Penny Laneand Abbey Road, referenced in songs by The Beatles. Penny Lane in Liverpool is directly opposite halls of residence used by first years at the University of Liverpool; due to constant theft, the road sign at one end is painted on, while at the other end it is positioned high up on the side of a house.
Brickyard Road, Clay County, Florida(See above). Fans repeatedly stole the road sign because Lynyrd Skynyrd lead singer Ronnie Van Zantwas living there before his death in 1977 and his brother, Johnny Van Zant, released an album and single called "Brickyard Road" in 1990.
** The county eventually erected a
concretepillar with the street name painted on it, as opposed to a traditional road sign.
* Nirvana Avenue,
Melbourne, Australiagenerally suffers the same fate because of the association with the band Nirvana.
* Beer Road, on the outskirts of
Orange, Australia. Due to the street sign being constantly stolen, the local council has resorted to attaching name stickers to armcoguard railings at the start of the road.
* The sign at the entrance to
Fucking, Austriaindicating entry to the town has often been stolen by English-speaking tourists. A welded sign mounted in concrete has been placed there to reduce the likelihood of theft.
* Ragged Ass Road,
Yellowknife, NWT, Canadais a popular with visitors to the area. To curb theft the city now sells replicas.
* The sign for
Magnanville, Yvelines, Franceis often stolen by students of Ecole Polytechnique, because Polytechnique's slang for their cafeteria is magnan. Often stolen signs are prominently displayed over the doorway to the cafeteria.
* Another popular site for sign theft is the intersection signs of Haight Street and Ashbury Street in San Francisco because of the associations to the hippie counter-culture of the late 1960s. It has been reported that after numerous thefts, the city installed an alarm system to deter souvenir seekers.
* In West Los Angeles, signs for Stoner Ave are stolen so frequently that the city cannot use the same street name sign template that they use for other city signs, instead keeping a reserve of generic signs to replace the ones that are stolen.
Leganés, Spain dedicated some streets to rock groups like AC/DC, Iron Maidenand Rosendo. The AC/DC sign was stolen days after inauguration. Leganés authorities now offer identical signs for sale. [http://www.elmundo.es/2000/04/05/madrid/05N0046.html Las placas de la «calle AC/DC» se pondrán a la venta a partir del próximo lunes] , El Mundo, April 5, 2000.] A fictional theft of the sign by fans appears in the film " Isi Disi".
* The sign indicating Southpark Drive in
Blacksburg, Virginiais frequently stolen, despite the town's repeated and escalating efforts to deter its theft. The street's signpost is several feet taller than normal, making it difficult to spot from a vehicle.
* Addresses popularized by television dramas, such as
Coronation Street, Jump Street, Wisteria Lane, Melrose Place, and Ramsay Streetmake their coincidental real-world locations targets for sign theft. Of the aforementioned television streets, only Melrose Place is actually named after a real location.
* Corona Street signs in
Denver, Coloradowere stolen due to the reference to Corona beer. The thefts were highest in the area around the University of Denver.
* In an episode of the sitcom "Titus", a flashback shows
Christopher Titusand his brother Dave stealing an "Exit 69" freeway sign. They also talk about next trying to find "Dangerous Curves" and "Slippery When Wet". Earlier, in the neutral space, Titus comments that, had the pair seen a sign that read "Penal Code", they would have stolen that as well.
metalcoreband Parkway Drive, which is named after the street in Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australiawhich the band members used to practice on is often stolen.Fact|date=May 2008 To prevent thefts the sign is placed high up a telegraph pole. The like-named street in Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australiais also a target for theft.Fact|date=May 2008
Ashland, Oregon, a street sign bearing the name "Mary Jane Way" is also a target for theft.Fact|date=May 2008
North Dakota, fire warning signs' hands are a target for theft. Fact|date=September 2007
Other culture and language
* Similarly, the Bong Recreation Area in Wisconsin has had signs stolen.
* The famed Route 66 signs are so often stolen that it can be difficult to navigate without knowing the Route. [ [http://www.route66usa.com/info.html Route 66 information page ] ]
* Another number prone to theft is 666.
U.S. Highway 666was renamed to 491 in 2003 due to pressure by New Mexicogovernor Bill Richardson over "infamy brought by the inopportune naming of the road [as the 6th branch of Highway 66] ." [http://www.geocities.com/usend6069/End666/end666.htm An enthusiast] cites Department of Transportation officials which pointed to sign theft. Skeptics, including "National Geographic", believe that the religious right was the driving force behind the change. Sign thefts were also partly behind the 1985 renumbering of Highway 666 in the Canadian province of Ontarioas Highway 658.
Shades Of Death Roadin Liberty Township, New Jersey, is desirable for a number of tales about the road and the name itself. Local vigilantes took matters into their own hands and put various lubricants on the pole holding the sign to make it impossible to climb. The other street signs along the road, in two other townships, are metal poles with the names of both intersecting streets in vertical type, harder to read but less attractive to thieves.
* Because of the sexual connotation of their names, the towns of
Intercourse, Pennsylvaniain the United States, Dildo, Newfoundland and Labradorin Canadaand Condom in Franceare frequent victims of sign theft.
* The Santa sign in
Drøbak, Norwayis often stolen. Drøbak is one of the numerous cities around the world that claim to be home to Santa Claus, and have put up an official sign warning of Santa Clauscrossing the road.
Quincy, Massachusettsis another location of increasing street sign theft. Signs have been spotted being uprooted from the ground then stolen. There is no known motive, however, for the thefts of signs in Quincy apart from the TV series of the same name—whose original broadcast run ended in 1983.
* Lost, Scotland Following publicity in tourist guidebooks, due to its unusual name, Lost has suffered from regular theft of street signs bearing its name.
* Another example involves the small town of
Luckenbach, Texasafter being made famous by the popular song written and sung by Waylon Jenningsand Willie Nelson, where signs were stolen almost as fast as they could be replaced; eventually the signs were simply not replaced at all.
Interstate 69signs are frequently stolen from the stretch of road leading in and out of Indianapolis, Indiana, as are U.S. Route 69signs through the central U.S. New Jerseyand Utahboth suffered a similar problem: New Jersey changed its Route 69 to Route 31 in 1967 and Utah changed its Route 69 to Route 38 in 1993. North Dakota changed its Route 69 to North Dakota State Highway 4 in 1997. Ohio changed its original Route 69 that ran from Dayton to south of Toledo to a northern extension of State Route 235 in the early 70's. (This explains the short unnumbered section of freeway connecting Ohio SR 4 to I-75: it was originally part of SR 69.) Highway 69 in the Canadian province of Ontarioalso frequently faces this problem, although the extension of Highway 400's tradeoff of Ontario route 69's distance may put an end to this by 2015 unless another highway in Ontario reuses that number in the far future. The sexual connotations of the number 69 are generally considered to be the motive for the thefts.
* Signs pointing the direction to Shag Point in
New Zealandare also frequently stolen because of the connotations of sexual behavior.
* Å, Norway and
Å, Swedenare subject to periodic theft of road signs.
* Leet Dr. in
Oakland, Californiahas been a target of roadsign theft due to its connotation of "elite" in leetspeak. The theft was probably prompted by a site on YTMNDwhich pointed out the street (located near the Oakland International Airport).
* A sign near Ham and
Sandwich, Kenthad to be replaced several times. New signs now show Sandwich before Ham.
* The sign of the Dutch village
Sexbierumis also regularly stolen because the name of the village is a contraction of the three words " Sex", "Bier" ( beer) and " Rum"
* Also in the Netherlands, the signs in the hamlet of Nederland in the
Netherlandswere often stolen. Nederland is Dutch for "the Netherlands".
* A horticultural research facility at the
University of Floridais often the target of vandalism due to its sign, Weed Science.
* Until it was modified to be less appealing to thieves, a [http://www.funnyhub.com/pictures/pages/college-or-weed.html road sign] in the town of Weed, California directed motorists to choose between College and Weed.
* A city in Michigan in between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek known as
Climax, Michiganis often stolen due to its sexual connotation.
Pasha Wayin Newcastle, Australia, named after the coal ship, Pasha Bulker, that ran aground on Nobby's Beach in Newcastle lasted only hours from its unveiling, before being stolen due to its amusing name.
Codroipo, Italyhas had its tags stolen frequently because its name is the anagramof the words "Porcodio" or "Dioporco", which literally mean " Pig God", which in Italian is considered a blasphemy.Fact|date=July 2008
Germanyhas had its signs stolen frequently because of the meaning of its name in English. Located in the near barracks around Stuttgart, it was often stolen by GIs.fact|date=September 2008
*In Canada, the street sign for Blood Alley in Vancouver, British Columbia is a frequent victim of street sign theft, as are the street signs at the intersection of Mary and Jane Streets in Miramichi, New Brunswick.
Street signs made of
aluminiumare a common target of theft in Third Worldcountries, for their scrap value and for reuse in the manufacture of pots and pans. Deterrents include punching holes in the metals, which renders such pots leaky.Fact|date=June 2008
List of unusual place names
Manhole cover theft
Parking meter theft
* [http://www.myroadsign.com/stolen-road-signs.htm Road Sign Theft News]
* [http://www.dailynebraskan.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2003/09/25/3f726a9a394ef?in_archive=1 Daily Nebraskan article]
* [http://www.owencounty.org/news/061401.htm Bill Breeden article in Owen County news]
* [http://www.kstatecollegian.com/issues/v101/fa/n018/city-gov-newsigns-alloway.html Kansas State University "Collegian" article]
* [http://www.mycrazyhobby.com my crazy hobby - a crazy (but legal) street sign and traffic light collection]
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