County officials want end to stop sign thefts

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; A rash of malicious mischief in the county isn&8217;t funny to officials and may end up being deadly, they said.

For several months now, off and on, stop signs, yield signs and street signs have come up missing. Sometimes they are torn down and left laying in the area, sometimes poles are left, sometimes the whole sign is gone, Sheriff Ronny Brown said. And Monday night things escalated.

Tuesday a road department employee discovered the glass window of a county-owned tractor had been smashed out, likely with a stop sign pole, Brown said. A sign at the intersection of Upper Kingston, Jeannette and Springfield roads was missing.

Email newsletter signup

The window will cost $700 to repair, and that&8217;s taxpayer money, Supervisor S.E. &8220;Spanky&8221; Felter said.

&8220;All it&8217;s doing is really costing the taxpayers money,&8221; he said. &8220;If you&8217;ve got a house and you own that house and knock a hole in the wall you&8217;ve got to pay for it. All it&8217;s going to do is cost you. That&8217;s what this is. I wish they would realize it.&8221;

Replacing a stop sign and pole costs the road department $65. A street sign &8212; pole not included &8212; is $25.

In some areas of the county road signs have come up missing three or four times a year, officials said.

But cost aside, missing street signs cause accidents, Brown said.

&8220;They are stealing stop signs and yield signs and that is dangerous,&8221; he said. &8220;If they aren&8217;t there, people won&8217;t stop.&8221;

Felter said he suspected the culprits were trying to be pranksters, but wants them to see the big picture.

&8220;If someone comes along and doesn&8217;t know that road comes to an end and someone dies, (the culprits) are going to think about that the rest of their lives,&8221; Felter said. &8220;They need to stop and think about what could happen if they tear the stop sign down and some kid or somebody comes along and gets killed.&8221;

Brown said road department employees and area residents frequently report the crimes to the sheriff&8217;s office.

&8220;The county has been looking for them,&8221; he said. &8220;If anyone knows anything about stolen stop signs and street name signs, let us know.&8221;

Anyone with any information can call the sheriff&8217;s office at 601-442-2752.