Sign theft case has city, officials looking for possible remedy

Sign theft case has city, officials looking for possible remedy
Southside City Council members may decide May 13 on a plan dealing with the theft of nearly 25 road signs in the Independence County town. (Source: KAIT-TV)

SOUTHSIDE, Ark. (KAIT) - The theft of over two dozen city street signs in one Independence County town has authorities there looking for ways to deal with the issue, including a possible creative way.

Do you prosecute? Do the suspects pay restitution? Or do the suspects write an essay about the importance of street signs and have it published?

All of the options are on the table as council members in Southside could face a final decision on the matter at its May 13 meeting.

According to minutes from the last city council meeting, Independence County Sheriff’s Department investigators have been looking into the theft of about 25 street signs in the Southside area.

Officials were able to identify three of the suspects on a school security system, the minutes from the council meeting indicated.

“There are three options: 1) Press charges and seek restitution of damages. We can only prosecute for the three signs that were captured on security. The last date of prosecution is March 17, 2020. 2) Come up with civilized agreement with parties involved to restore the signs. If this option is chosen, the council cannot go back and press charges. 3) 13 signs have been recovered. The council could accept that and do nothing,” the minutes to the meeting noted.

The suspects in the case - all of whom are juveniles - have expressed a willingness to either pay restitution or try to make the situation right, both the minutes and Mayor Ray Bowman said.

Bowman has suggested the essay approach and noted officials are working with lawyers to make sure things are being done in a legal manner.

Bowman said Friday council members will make the final decision on the issue, but stressed the theft of street signs, especially ones with proper names, is important due to both public safety and the cost of replacing them.

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