MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. -- Road signs are going missing left and right in Marshall County and county leaders want it to stop, saying the thefts are dangerous for drivers and they cost money.
"Countywide this is an ongoing thing. We have four districts and a lot of signs go down and currently, we've only got one employee that handles the signs," said District 1 Commissioner Ronny Shumate. It costs roughly $100 to replace each sign, including labor. Fourteen signs went missing from his district alone in the last two weeks.
"If you multiply times four, four districts, every month, that really adds up," Shumate said, "That'll blow a budget out of sight."
But, more important than money, road sign thefts are a danger to drivers. "It's so dangerous," Shumate said, "How would you feel if a family member got severely injured in an accident because someone did not see a sign that had been removed, and there was a traffic accident?"
On top of that Shumate cited first responders: if they can't find a road because the sign is gone, that's minutes that count, wasted.
Shumate, who has decades of experience in law enforcement, says sign theft is a criminal offense. "You're guilty of theft. If you damage, you're guilty of criminal mischief. If you take it from somebody else that has stolen it and you've got it, you're guilty of receiving stolen property. That's three criminal offenses," Shumate said.
Bottom line - stop. That's all county leaders say there is to it.
If you see anyone damaging or stealing signs, call the Marshall County Commission office, your local commissioner, or your local law enforcement agency.