Stop Sign Thefts
By: Alexander Winton
A string of stop sign thefts in the Champaign County area has prompted the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office to investigate and the Champaign County Crime Stoppers to offer $1,000 to anyone who can provide information that would assist the investigation.
The Sheriff’s Office has reported an uptick in stolen stop signs in the last two months, specifically in the Champaign townships of St. Joseph, Stanton, and Ogden.
Stop signs have long been a target of vandals, leading to the spending of thousands of dollars to replace them. This recent phenomenon of entire stop signs being stolen is not only costly but dangerous.
“Anytime that one is missing or down or malfunctioning in any capacity, it obviously poses a threat to motorists driving throughout the community,” said Champaign County lieutenant of investigations Kurt Apperson.
The Sheriff’s Office has yet to determine a motive or identify any suspects but they believe that the effort required to steal a stop sign requires more than one person present.
“I would assume that it would take time or, a lot of strength, either pulling it out using a vehicle or by hand or getting tools out to remove the stop sign. it could be one person, but I would suspect there's more than one,” Apperson said.
The Sheriff’s Office is concerned that any intersection missing a stop sign is a breeding ground for collisions. Apperson offered ways drivers can combat this.
“Fall back to the rules of the road. You need to stop, you need to yield to the vehicles that are ready and report it. if I drive to work every day and I know there's a stop sign at that intersection, and it's no longer there, I think that's something I would report to the police straight away.”
Concerned Champaign citizens such as Edward Romo are ready to answer the call.
“I definitely feel a duty to report any suspicious activity concerning the theft of these stop signs. These thieves are playing a dangerous game, a stop sign at an intersection can be the difference between life and death,” Romo said.
Anyone who has information that could aid in the investigation is encouraged to contact the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division at 217-384-1213 or Champaign County Crime Stoppers at 217-384-TIPS (8477).