A rash of costly street sign thefts across Selwyn Township has promoted a public notice from the township.
“Street signs are being stolen,” states a post issued by the township on Thursday.
“We are having a major issue in the Bridgenorth and Ennismore area. The township is urging residents to return any recovered signs to the township office after hours to “help save (community members’) tax dollars.
Selwyn Township’s public works department manager Rick Dunford told The Examiner that while stolen signage is not uncommon, thefts this year have been “exceptionally excessive.”
In the last six months, he estimates that 30 street signs have been stolen across Selwyn Township — including stop signs, speed limit signs, directional signs and street name blades.
The township is stressing the potentially dangerous impacts of removing crucial road signage, noting that emergency personnel and first responders rely on properly installed signs to carry out their duties effectively and efficiently.
Most of the stolen signs have been taken with the attached post or pole in tow, but some street signs have been removed from their posts.
“Some are broken at the post and some have been removed with tools,” Dunford stated by email.
“If signs are broken at the post, typically the nuts and bolts have been removed. This means (the culprit or culprits) have used tools to remove the sign.”
Taking into account materials and labour expenses, it costs about $150 to reinstall a single sign, he said.
As a result of this year’s influx in pilfered street signs, he said the township is now well over its annual signage budget, falling on Selwyn taxpayers.
Stolen signs are typically replaced as soon as possible, said Dunford, but if a sign is not in stock, it can take up to several weeks before they can be reordered and reinstalled.
While the public works department did not directly respond to whether or not police are investigating the spike in thefts, Dunford noted a 19-year-old was “caught” defacing signage in the fall.
Peterborough County OPP Const. Joseph Ayotte told The Examiner the detachment hasn’t received any calls for service about stolen street signs in Selwyn Township.
Anyone suspected of stealing a street sign could face charges mischief or theft under $5,000, Ayotte stated.
If injuries were sustained as a result of theft, charges could be increased to criminal negligence or causing bodily harm by criminal negligence.
Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him at email@example.com.
Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner