Street signs are there for a reason, and officials said while some might consider stealing a street sign a fun way to act out, it could be putting lives at risk in the event of an emergency.
Billy Allen, director of Greenwood’s Public Works Department, said his office receives word whenever street signs are damaged or stolen. Recently, he got word that street signs in the neighborhood behind Garden Grille were missing.
“Every once in a while, a big truck will come by and hit them, but usually it’s lying there and we can reuse it,” he said. “In this case, the signs were missing.”
He said vandalism and theft of signs aren’t unheard of, and it causes more than just a nuisance for public officials. Without the ability to manufacture street signs locally, Allen said they have to be ordered from an out-of-state maker.
“It’ll take anywhere from 20-25 days to get them, and then we go out and put them back up,” he said. “The sign costs anywhere from $30-$40 per sign, and then the post might be about $30, plus labor for the time spent working to put the sign back up.”
While the sign is down, it makes navigating the area harder, he said. It can cause trouble for people trying to find a specific address, but it can prove to have more serious consequences when it comes to first responders.
Despite equipping his EMS crews with GPS systems and maps, Greenwood County Interim EMS Director Derek Oliver said when seconds count, sometimes crews have to rely on street signs too.
“If the unit isn’t aware, especially if they have new people on the crew that are still learning the streets, it can definitely delay our response to a call,” he said of downed street signs. “People don’t realize, the way those signs are made to be reflective, at night they can serve to alert you that there’s a turn up ahead, or they might be the only warning you’re coming up on an intersection.”
So while sports fans might envy a road sign with the name of their favorite state team or someone might eye a sign that matches their last name, street signs belong on their corners.