Police to pursue felony charges against sign thieves

Published 11:00 pm Monday, September 3, 2012

In the last month, hundreds of dollars worth of traffic signs have been stolen from Troy University’s campus.

As many as eight crosswalk signs that alerted drivers to stop for pedestrian traffic have been taken. It might seem like a prank, but it’s an action with dangerous consequences.

“We’ve had some near misses with students because of the theft of the signs,” said University Police Chief John McCall. “It has caused a problem at the university, especially with our foreign students.”
That’s because students who come from countries, such as China, expect cars to stop when they enter crosswalks.

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“In the U.S., we aren’t trained that way. Pedestrians usually wait for cars to stop before stepping into a crosswalk,” McCall said.

McCall said that the smaller, more visually appealing crosswalk signs were placed in six locations around campus last year in an effort to beautify the area. Theft has been a problem ever since.
“We’ve glued them to the ground and we’ve screwed them into the ground and people still snatch them out,” McCall said, adding that he doesn’t know why someone would want to steal a crosswalk sign.

University police will be looking at effective ways to mount new signs in the future, but a new theft deterrent is already in place for signs that haven’t been stolen. Would-be sign thieves should now prepare to have their picture taken if they try to snatch a sign on Troy University’s campus.

“We have put cameras on the remaining signs and we are going to put cameras on the signs we replace,” McCall said.

And while stealing traffic signs might seem like a small thing, the university will be pursuing felony charges against sign thieves, according to McCall.

“If you are doing it as a prank, its a bad idea,” McCall said. “Its not a good prank to pull, it could cost somebody their life.”

The signs cost about $300 each and witnesses are urged to call university police to report where the stolen signs may be located.

If anyone has noticed the signs dumped somewhere, McCall said he would like to recover them. People can call the main police line at 670-3215, or the Secret Witness line at 670-5814.