Here’s your sign
By Greg Bird
With a rash of county road signs being stolen over recent weeks county officials are asking the public to remain vigilant and report any missing signs and suspicious activity.
That request seemed to pay off as six young women were charged Monday for taking signs, with many of the missing signs being recovered.
Constable Cody Stephens issued the citations Monday after receiving a security camera video showing one of the thefts. Stephens posted the video to his Facebook page and was able to get information from several members of the public as to the possible identity of the vandals.
The driver of the vehicle contacted Constable Stephens and admitted to taking part in some of the thefts. A second individual also reported herself. Four other individuals, including a juvenile, were identified and cited as well.
According to the citations, Kharma Brunett, 20, Lauryn Phillips, 20, Jessica Cox, 19, Alexa Torak, 20, and Julia King, 19, were all cited with charges of theft by unlawful taking under $500, a Class A Misdemeanor. A court appearance has been scheduled for March 5 in the cases.
About 21 signs were recovered and returned to the County Road Department who will clean and replace the signs.
County officials believe there are others who are pulling similar “pranks,” and pledge to continue investigating and will charge others as well when found.
During last weeks Fiscal Court meeting Magistrate Roger Phillips and EMS Director Jimmy Barnett issued the plea for help after more than 40 road signs were reported stolen over recent months.
Officials state while taking signs may seem a harmless prank to some, it could lead to a very serious situation if emergency crews cannot find a road due to a missing sign.
“This is very serious,” Barnett said. “It may be a joke to someone, but what if a member of your family needed medical care and emergency crews were delayed in finding your house because of a missing sign?”
Each sign is valued at about $26 to manufacture, but that cost does not include the labor involved in making the sign and installing it around the county. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has updated their regulations for street signs in recent years, and the County Road Department and 911 (where the signs are printed) have been working to replace older signs with the new ones to meet state standards.
Magistrate Phillips said the thefts have cost the county money and time as the department has to constantly make new signs and erect them.
“They seem to be tearing them down faster than we can put them up,” he said.
To make it more difficult to take the street signs Barnett said plans are to replace the poles holding the signs with taller ones; and in some cases doubling up on the poles to further secure them.