Road Sign Theft

Road Sign Theft – Tragedy Potential

LaSalle Parish officials are extremely concerned about the possibility of a tragedy resulting from the theft of numerous road and street signs in the parish.  Authorities report that during one night last week, every road sign on LA 503 from Summerville, LA, to Nichols, LA, and all the signs on LA 3071, except for four, were taken from their sign posts.

Sheriff Scott Franklin, who also serves as the chairman of the LaSalle Communication Board (E-911 Board), points out the grave danger from signs not being in place during an emergency.  “We have first responders – fire, police, and ambulance – that depend on these roads signs to find the location of an emergency,” Franklin said. “When the road signs are missing, these people may have difficulty in reaching their destination.”

Missing road signs could also delay firemen who are responding to a call for a fire.  This was the case last week when the Summerville-Rosefield Fire Department was called to a fire on Westbrooks Road off of LA 3071.

The missing signs can also affect other services to an area such as US mail delivery, UPS or FedEx deliveries, and meter reading for utility companies.

Officials are quick to point out that it costs the taxpayers each time a sign has to be replaced. Ann Breland, E-911 Coordinator for the LaSalle Communication District, said it costs anywhere from $35 to $50 to replace a missing sign.  “Once we get a report of a missing sign, we immediately begin the process of replacing the sign by first making a new sign and then going to the physical location and replacing it,” she said. “This all takes time, which could be critical in an emergency.”

“But, with the number of signs that were stolen during one nights time, it takes a much longer period of time to make and replace all the signs,” she noted. “We want everyone to know we work as fast as we can to get the signs replaced as quickly as possible.”

District Attorney J. Reed Walters said the penalty for stealing E-911 road signs is a $500 fine and up to 6 months in jail. The penalty for taking state road signs placed by DOTD is a fine of $500, with 30 days in jail.  Walters said that each sign stolen would constitute a separate violation of the statute leading to prosecution on multiple charges.

“No penalty can replace the loss of a life because of this needless act of vandalism,” said Sheriff Franklin. “Our deputies are constantly on the lookout for anyone that may be involved in this type activity, but we can’t be every where at once,” he noted. “We are asking motorists to call us and report any activity of this nature.”

“But most of all, I would like for those who would participate in this kind of activity to realize that it could be your family member that needs an ambulance for a medical emergency, a police officer if someone is trying to break into your home, or firemen in case of a fire, and that none of these people could reach your location because there are no signs to mark the way,” Franklin said.