Stolen town signs cause problems, cost tax-payers

Been having trouble finding streets around Cazenovia lately? Wondering where the signs have disappeared to? So is the Town Highway Department.

In the past few weeks, numerous street signs have been stolen from area avenues including Syossett Drive, Ferndell, Chard and Maple Roads.

"Lately it's been such a consistent and prevalent problem; the town board is at a point where if we catch the person, we will prosecute," said Cazenovia Town Highway Department Superintendent Tim Hunt. "It has cost the tax-payers quite a bit of money."

Hunt said he understands the allure and nostalgia associated with obtaining an official street sign, but warned of the harm done by sign theft.

"We expect to lose a few signs here and there. Kids like them for their dorm rooms," Hunt said. "It starts out as a harmless prank, but it ends up costing a large amount of money and it can be a safety hazard if ambulances are responding to emergencies and can't find the road."

Recently, the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the standard to which Highway Departments nationwide must comply, was revised. The MUTCD regulations regarding the size of street signs have been modified to better accommodate drivers with poor vision.

Signs that are currently in use need not be replaced, however all new street signs that are to be installed must be 10-inch tall aluminum panels, with a diamond-grade covering to increase reflectivity. Each sign's letters must be at least six-inches tall with a border of two inches on all sides. Including posts and installation, the amount each new sign will cost is $100.

Over the course of one night last August, Hunt said that every single street sign in Cazenovia was stolen. The total cost the department incurred while replacing each sign amounted to approximately $5,500. If the same incident was to happen today, replacing each sign could cost upwards of $8,000 because of the new regulations, Hunt said.

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