Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Stolen road sign amnesty in September

Crittenden County Fiscal Court is partnering with TipLine and the Crittenden County Attorney’s office to create a comprehensive campaign to stop road sign theft.

Judge-Executive Perry Newcom said the problem has become such a public safety issue that extreme measures must be taken. Since spring, dozens of road signs, including stop signs and other critical guideposts have been stolen or vandalized, costing the county thousands of dollars.

In an attempt to get a handle on the problem, county leaders have agreed to give offenders a one-month amnesty period during September.

“If they have a sign and bring it back, nothing will be said,” Magistrate Curt Buntin said. “After that it’s full prosecution. We have to put some teeth in this to get it stopped.”

During the amnesty period, traffic signs can be dropped off at the county road department's maintenance facility on U.S. 60 East during or after normal business hours. After hours, leave them on the bench in front of the building. They may also be left at Marion Police Department or The Crittenden Press on the loading dock off North College Street at any time 24 hours a day.

After the September amnesty period, there will be up to a $1,000 reward offered for the arrest of those stealing road signs. Everyone found in possession of a traffic sign will be prosecuted, officials say.

Look for posters, awareness programs in the community and a social and traditional media blitz from the county to get its message out about the amnesty program and potential criminal penalties facing those caught in the aftermath.

Magistrates say they’re serious about it and so is County Attorney Rebecca Johnson, whose office is putting up half of the reward money.

Johnson said sign theft is creating potentially dangerous situations and has advised county leaders to replace any stolen traffic sign, especially stop signs, as soon as they are found to be missing.