By Lee Robinson, Traffic Systems Division Manager
Most people know traffic and street signs are vital to not only find your way around but to keep you and your family safe. Unfortunately, some folks seem to think those bright, reflective signs are better suited for trophies, souvenirs, or apartment decorations.
Several years ago, stop signs were the favored target, but street signs are more popular these days, especially those with common themes. In 2018, the most popular signs for thieves were from the same neighborhood west of the Wellborn-Rock Prairie intersection:
1. Papa Bear (stolen 6 times)
2. Momma Bear (5)
3. Goldilocks, Baby Bear, and Airborne (tied at 4)
The city’s Traffic Operations Division uses the latest in tamper-proof hardware to secure our signs, but resourceful thieves always seem to find a way to steal them anyway, sometimes taking the entire sign post assembly with cutting torches or smooth-cut power saws.
In 2018, we had 141 signs reported as missing or stolen. That’s down a bit from past years, but’s it’s still too many. The cost of replacing each sign averages about $200 and can be as much as $275, depending on the situation. That means last year’s price tag for replacing missing signs totaled more than $28,000.
The cost of the sign and hardware itself is just the start. We also have to factor in the staff time required to go to the location, assess what’s needed, repair any site damage, and install the new sign. In some cases, we can’t put the new sign in the original spot. When that happens, state and federal laws require us to call 811 to locate utility lines before digging elsewhere, a process that creates a delay of 2-3 days.
We maintain more than 15,000 traffic and street signs in our system, so we have plenty to do without replacing those that end up on apartment walls. If you thinking taking a sign isn’t a big deal, think again.
It’s against the law, and if you have one, you’ll be prosecuted.
About the Blogger
Traffic Systems Division Manager Lee Robinson is in his 36th year with the City of College Station.
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By Lee Robinson, Traffic Systems Superintendent
For some reason, quite a few folks in College Station seem to take pride in having a stop, warning or street sign hanging on their wall like a hunting trophy.
Stealing traffic signs may seem like a harmless prank, but these signs aren’t intended to be apartment decorations. They are designed to protect public safety by regulating, guiding and warning motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Some signs may bear a family or girlfriend’s name, remind someone of a favorite place, or have a double meaning. In College Station, it’s not hard to figure out why someone would want signs from Kyle Avenue, 12th Man Circle, and even Papa Bear Drive.
We’re constantly looking for new technologies to tamper-proof and track the signs, but they still keep disappearing. Last year, 151 of our traffic signs were reported missing.