Vandals, thieves target road signs

A handful of stolen road signs, recovered and sitting in McDowell EMS’ offices

McDowell emergency agencies are urging the public to be aware of and report stolen road signs in the area.

Angie Wright, 911 Addressing Coordinator/Emergency Management Assistant, went into detail on how these reported thefts and vandalisms hurt not only emergency agencies on route, but also patients in need and even the county taxpayer.

“We’ve had people call and say that people have been swinging on them or pulling them down, bending them down where you can’t see them, particularly in Glenwood,” said Wright. “We’ve even had signs just thrown into people’s yards. Sometimes they’ll take just the sign and leave the pole, sometimes they’ll leave the pole lying in a ditch.”

According to Wright, at least 21 road signs were reported missing or stolen during the month of July alone, with two or more orders made to replace those taken.

“People don’t realize when they take them or damage them or knock them over, they’re really hurting innocent people out there who may be calling for help in an emergency, needing assistance and the help is delayed getting to them because they can’t find the road that they’re looking for,” said Wright. “If you think about it, it’s really affecting your delivery drivers, FedEx, utility workers if they’re trying to come out to these power outages. You’ve got them driving up and down the road trying to figure out where they’re needed.”

Additionally, Wright stressed that damage or theft to road signs impacts local taxpayers, with installation of signs (poles, brackets, nuts and bolts included) costing $145 apiece.

“You take 21 signs in the month of July alone,” said Wright “and times that by $145, each taxpayer has to pay for that.”

A similar, more substantial case was investigated in 2016, where a reported 91 road signs were stolen across the county (59 of which were stolen in the month of July alone) and costing $9,828 to replace and repair. During that investigation, seven McDowell teenagers were issued criminal summons for larceny.

If anyone has information on stolen or damaged road signs, contact Angie Wright at (828) 652-3982.

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