The Duncan Banner

March 7, 2013

County road signs object of criminal mischief

Megan Bristow
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN —  

District Two County Commissioner Lonnie Estes has been working to make the roads in his district easier to navigate. Erecting road signs on previously unmarked county roads is the primary effort, but one or more culprits within the county appear and are stealing or destroying the new signs.
Since Feb. 6, six signs have been stolen from the intersections of Nine Mile Road and Fuller Road, 10 Mile Road and Bois d’ Arc Avenue and Eight Mile Road and Beech Avenue. In addition to stealing the signs, the culprit is also destroying the poles the signs sit on, which incurs an even greater replacement cost for the county.
Estes said at last count there were also four road signs that had been shot at putting dozens of bullet holes in the signs including the sign from the intersection of Six Mile Road and Beech. Other signs may have also been a target but have not yet been discovered, Estes said.
The county has spent over $3,300 for 374 of these signs. This total does not include the labor hours and equipment cost to install them. Each sign costs $17.35 each and most intersections have two signs. The poles cost about $17.90 each. 
Because of the theft, these roads may be left unmarked. Estes said he was going to have to check whether there were extra signs that could replace the ones that have been stolen or destroyed.
Contact with the sheriff’s office has been made in an attempt to try and catch the perpetrator but is also asking people in the area to keep an eye out for anyone that appears to be stealing or destroying a sign.
“They will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Estes said. 
Although the string of destruction has most recently affected District 2, the other signs in the county are also being destroyed.
“I do not know if I have a sign in my district that has not been shot at,” District 3 Commissioner Dee Bowen said.
Bowen said he has found signs missing, shot at or at the bottom of creeks before.
Estes said these items may be targeted for novelty to hang on a wall. The signs are made out of aluminum, which could also be sold for money.
The signs are used for more than just directional by travelers but also by area fire departments and the sheriff’s office to locate incidents that have been called in. Without the signs, it can slow response time to a critical call.
While the theft and targeting of the signs may be routine, it does not lessen the resources expended having to replace them. Anyone with information concerning the destruction of county property should call the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office at 255-3131.