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Theft of county road signs concerns supervisors

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Feb. 22, 2001
Lauderdale County officials are concerned about the increasing number of road signs being stolen throughout the county a misdemeanor crime that is both costly and dangerous.
Supervisors talked to Sheriff Billy Sollie about the problem at a regular meeting earlier this week.
Florey said signs identifying Hunter's Run a road off Poplar Springs Drive have been stolen repeatedly. Another popular target is the intersection of Confederate Drive and Old Country Club Road East. All four signs have been stolen, he said.
Mounting the signs on higher poles has failed to stop the thefts, Florey said. The signs cost taxpayers $30 each without the added cost of county labor and equipment to erect them. He said it takes about two weeks to get a sign replaced.
Law enforcement officials have a hard time catching the offenders.
The offense is a misdemeanor because the value of a street sign is less than the $250 amount required to charge a person with grand larceny. The fine if the person is caught is less than $100, Sollie said. But the effects on the public can be deadly.
If caught, the person can be held civilly liable for the property damage, injury or death, he said.
The second critical concern involves emergency response calls. Deputies, ambulances and fire trucks can be delayed if road signs are absent.
Florey said stealing signs also hinders delivery people, a "general nuisance" that could keep people's packages, furniture or appliances from being delivered on time.
Sollie said his deputies rely heavily on the motoring public to report people they see tampering with signs. Anyone witnessing such tampering should note the license plate number and call the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department at 482-9800. A description of the vehicle and suspicious person is also helpful.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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