Stopping thieves before someone gets hurt

By Arnold Wyrick - bio | email

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, IL  (KFVS) -Police in Williamson County are asking for your help in stopping whoever is stealing stop signs and other traffic signs throughout the county.

"We want to ensure that folks who travel these rural areas are safe," said Williamson County Engineer Greg Smothers.

But, that is becoming more difficult by the day, after a rash of traffic signs being stolen around the county.

And now police say the thieves are putting peoples lives at risk.

"A lot of times people seem to navigate by the signs, even if it's an intersection they've driven through a thousand times," said Deputy Brian Murrah with the Williamson County Sheriff's Department.

"The concern is if the stop sign is missing they're not going to realize it until they're in the intersection already. There's a lot of risk, there's a lot of force in a T-Bone collision. There's not a lot of to help you prevent injuries."

And the costs are adding up in replacing all the stolen signs.

"Every time we go out and replace one of these signs we're talking three to four hundred dollars, every time, " Smothers said.

"And we've got a dozen stolen over the course of one weekend, we're talking thousands of dollars, that mount up pretty quick."

But, the cost of the signs pales in comparison to the potential for the loss of life at the unmarked intersections.

" And if someone pulls out in front of a vehicle traveling 40 to 50 miles per hour and gets T-Boned, it could lead to serious injuries or god forbid a fatal accident."

And the thefts are punishable as a felony, which could result in time in prison if someone is caught and found guilty.

"The theft of the signs due to the cost to replace them can be charged as a Class 2 Felony, which is punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison and a $25,000 fine," said Deputy Murrah.

If you have any information about these traffic signs being stole, you're asked to call the Williamson County Sheriff's Office at 618-997-6541, or the Williamson County Crimestoppers at 1-800-414-TIPS(8477).

A $1,000 reward is being offered to anyone with information that leads to an arrest.




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