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Fentress Highway Official: Street Sign Theft Not A Prank, Danger To Others

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Fentress Highway Official: Street Sign Theft Not A Prank, Danger To Others

Fentress County officials looking to put a stop to the growing crime of people stealing street signs and the dangers associated with the crime.

Fentress County Highway Superintendent Ryan Reed said his department installed 13 stop signs in one community last week. Within days, three were already gone. Reed said a major accident caused by a missing stop sign is not a matter of if, but when.

“Realistically, it’s risking people’s lives,” Reed said. “You know, they’re stealing stop signs, and what’s more dangerous than taking a stop sign away from an intersection that’s supposed to have one?”

Reed said the missing street signs are a major problem as well. He said without road signs, first responders and ambulances cannot find their way to emergency calls. Reed said he believes kids are stealing the signs, thinking that it is a funny game.

“Somebody having a heart attack, somebody’s wife, mother, father, husband, son,  you know, it could happen to any of us,” Reed said. “If first responders can’t find the road because the road name sign has been stolen, it’s a problem.”

Reed said three people were caught last spring when they attempted to run over a sign with their vehicle to steal it. 14 other signs were found in the possession of the 25-33-year-old individuals, and they were prosecuted. Reed said each of them ended up paying some $1,800 in fines, restitution, and court fees.

“The Sheriff’s Department, they’re shorthanded of course, as most people are,” Reed said. “It’s not a top priority on their list I’m sure, so it’s just an ongoing problem that needs to be solved that it’s hard to find the answers for.”

Reed said he wants to alert perpetrators of the seriousness of the crime. He said when a sign comes up missing, he and his department replace it right away, but that costs taxpayers money and leaves a window of opportunity for a major incident while there is no sign in place.

Reed said while there are no leads at present, he intends to do everything in his power to put the issue to bed.


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