Emergency responders concerned after increase in sign thefts

Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 4:48 PM CST
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SHARP COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - Some counties in Northeast Arkansas are used to having famous signs, such as Copperhead Road, stolen.

In Sharp County, county officials say multiple road signs with no famous name are being stolen.

Jeremy Langston is the County Road Foreman and Office of Emergency Management Director for Sharp County.

Road sign theft has been an issue for a while, but Langston says the problem has increased in the last few months.

“I won’t say that it’s just limited to Sharp County, but it’s what we’ve got to deal with,” Langston said. “The road sign theft is getting a bit excessive here in the last six to nine months.”

Langston says you might think road signs aren’t that expensive, but it adds up between purchasing the materials and having county employees re-install them.

“I would say it has upward to several thousands of dollars,” Langston said. “You don’t think of a road sign being that much expense-wise, but by the time you put the labor hours and the man to put the sign together, to go out and put the signup, you’re talking several dollars every day.”

Langston says aside from the thefts costing the county money, as OEM Director, taking a sign... could also take someone’s life.

“You go out and have an accident, and you’re not familiar with the area, and there’s not road signage, and you don’t know what road you’re on, you can’t really relay that information, then that’s crucial time that dispatch has got to try and track your cell phone and figure out where you’re at,” Langston said. “When you’re in an emergency situation, time is of the essence, and every second counts.”

Sharp County Sheriff-Elect Shane Russell says you can face severe punishment if caught.

“If they’re caught stealing road signs or are in possession of them, they could be looking at a $2500 fine or up to a year in the county jail.”

Langston explained they have set up game cameras to try and catch the thieves, but there are times the game cameras have also been stolen.

You’re encouraged to contact law enforcement if you catch someone in the act.