The Times West Virginian

Opinion

September 6, 2013

‘Devastating consequences’ can result from stolen street signs

Even in this age of technology and GPS devices, something as simple as a street sign is still a basic navigational tool people rely on each and every day.

First responders use street signs to get to your home as quickly as possible if there’s an emergency.

Out-of-town guests use street signs to find their way around your neighborhood if they’re coming to celebrate a special occasion.

Carriers use street signs to help ensure the delivery of your mail and newspaper each day.

So when those street signs are missing, these tasks become more difficult.

And if the street signs are stolen, it’s an even bigger problem.

That’s what officials in the Worthington area are facing. Street signs were stolen from Hutchinson Drive, Meadowridge Road, Chiefton Way, New Hill Circle and Crown Street over the weekend, and Mayor Sandra Hulsey said it’s not the first time it’s happened.

But stolen street signs aren’t the only problem the town’s facing.

There were also reports of stolen speed bumps — which Hulsey said were installed specifically to slow traffic because a lot of children live and play in the neighborhood where the speed bumps were stolen.

When you consider that the town has to cover the cost of the stolen signs at roughly $50 apiece, the irresponsible acts become not just a safety concern, but an expensive problem for the town to deal with as well.

Perhaps Hulsey put it best when she described it as “just pure vandalism.”

Sadly, street and road signs have been disappearing in Marion County for years.

Last October, when road signs in the Swisher Hill area were stolen, Marion County’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management director Chris McIntire said as many as 12 signs were being reported stolen in one night. He said signs are disappearing “everywhere in the county, almost daily.”

“It used to be we had some street names that were popular that were stolen,” McIntire said. “Recently, it’s been whatever they come to. I think it’s just how many signs they can steal.

“It’s a childish act,” he added. “They don’t realize the devastating consequences if first responders can’t find a location in an emergency.”

We certainly hope it doesn’t take something as serious as emergency responders being unable to quickly locate a house when someone is having a heart attack or a child is choking to make those who steal these street signs realize how ridiculous their behavior is.

As McIntire said, “It would be a sad day if someone died for a childish act of stealing a sign.” But he said it’s “just a matter of time” before it happens.

And as Sheriff Joe Carpenter pointed out last fall, “You don’t want to be that reason.”

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