Anybody ever get caught stealing a street sign?

ziggyonice

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Mar 12, 2006
2,385
1
Rural America
So today we had a city inspector come by our apartment to check it met their standards for "rent". Well the review went all fine and dandy except for the fact that when the inspector walked in with our landlord, he was greeted by a street sign that my roommate had found on the ground several months ago.

"Stealing the city's property is against the law, gentlemen," he said. We looked at him thinking, 'Who the hell are you to enforce the law?' Either way, he took the sign with him and left. Now I don't know if he has any authority whatsoever, but let's just say that he does. If he contacts the police, or judicial offices, or whoever, are we subject to a fine or penalty? Would it make a difference that the individual who found the sign no longer lives within state boundaries?

Obviously this sort of thing can vary from state to state, or city to city. I guess I'm just looking for anyone else who has maybe experienced a similar situation — fine or other penalty.
 

TuffLuffJimmy

macrumors G3
Apr 6, 2007
8,989
25
Portland, OR
I'm guessing he just tripped on the little power he has and took the sign. He's probably not going to turn it in to anyone since he doesn't even know who to turn it in to.
 

ethical

macrumors 68000
Dec 22, 2007
1,661
1
I agree with Jimmy. It would be way too much hassle for him to do all that, I really don't think he'll bother.

What road sign was it? I woke up with a big "Road Closed" sign in my room a few weeks ago :D
 

Hayduke60

macrumors regular
Mar 2, 2009
191
0
What was the sign? If it was something cool like High St. or the like, then he probably took it home. It's gracing the wall of his basement lair. They really need to catch you in the act, to do anything about you having one street sign.
 

MacVixen

macrumors 6502
Jan 26, 2009
385
0
Santa Cruz, CA
The inspector was likely power tripping, but his statement of "Stealing the city's property is against the law, gentlemen," is absolutely true. Every municipality will react differently. I just happen to work for a Public Works department and one of my duties is pusuing reimbursement for stolen/damaged street signs :D We never go after people in the legal sense - all we want is our sign back or some money to make a new one.
 

GimmeSlack12

macrumors 603
Apr 29, 2005
5,396
7
San Francisco
I remember in college my friends frat brother lived at a house where Police found a STOP sign on the back patio (patio was open to the adjacent parking lot). The police came around to the apartment and took one of the housemates downtown because the kid was on probation and having the sign violated the probation.

The guy they took in had only lived there a few months and that street sign had been there much much longer. Such a messed up situation, but the moral of the story: Do not mess with street signs.

(OP I highly doubt you're in any trouble)
 

yg17

macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
14,888
2,480
St. Louis, MO
Wouldn't they have to prove you stole it? You could've just as easily bought a replica sign.

Not yet....

However there is a street in Lancaster called Gage Street. I must have it.
Pfft, that's nothing. I want the sign for the town of F**king, Austria :D

(yes, it's real. Wikipedia it)
 

miles01110

macrumors Core
Jul 24, 2006
19,264
30
The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
The inspector was likely power tripping, but his statement of "Stealing the city's property is against the law, gentlemen," is absolutely true. Every municipality will react differently. I just happen to work for a Public Works department and one of my duties is pusuing reimbursement for stolen/damaged street signs :D We never go after people in the legal sense - all we want is our sign back or some money to make a new one.
So how do you get money back for the sign? Do you just ask nicely?
 

0098386

Suspended
Jan 18, 2005
21,553
2,886
We did the opposite once. Someone stole a street sign so we painted in a new name at night.
I've never known of anyone to get in trouble over stealing a sign before (locally I mean).
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
63,843
30,363
Boston
Well the review went all fine and dandy except for the fact that when the inspector walked in with our landlord, he was greeted by a street sign that my roommate had found on the ground several months ago.
No offense but you had city property in your possession did you not. Does it matter that you didn't pull it off the pole but rather found it lying around? It's still city property that you took w/o permission.

The inspector could have been on a power trip but he's right you know.
 

r1ch4rd

macrumors 6502a
Aug 5, 2005
980
1
Manchester UK
I agree with Jimmy. It would be way too much hassle for him to do all that, I really don't think he'll bother.

What road sign was it? I woke up with a big "Road Closed" sign in my room a few weeks ago :D
Student eh? If you know Upper Brook street there is a pirate flag on the side of a building that is asking to be stolen. Some friends of mine once carried an old street light home too.
 

Sdashiki

macrumors 68040
Aug 11, 2005
3,512
8
Behind the lens
Pretty much. We send them a bill. Most people pay right up. If not, it goes to the Tax Collector's Office - I'm sure they are not as nice as we are in DPW :D
So are all street signs, whether a decade or a day old...illegal to have in your possession?

Do these things not exist outside the realm of govt municipalities and the like? Anytime I see one at a yard sale, flea market or someone else's home or establishment...I have to assume its illegal!?

Ive acquired a "Slow Children at Play" sign...all metal, 100% city grade sign. Only thing about it is the backside of it (it was glued to these busted fake wood things in the development)...it was originally for a BBQ restaurant. Has their info and hours just like any typical business sign.

one side is a BBQ restaurant...the other is "Slow Children at Play"...I cant tell you how hilarious we all thought that was when it peeled from the glue.

So tell me...is the city now stealing local biz signs and then re-purposing them for city use!? And whats the point in trying to come into my home and take it from me, city worker or not. Its not even from the state I currently reside in...but being a generic sign (albeit with the local biz info on it) whose to say.
 

Gav2k

macrumors G3
Jul 24, 2009
9,218
1,584
If he was going to have the cops come arrest you for theft he would have been better off leaving the sign in your possetion. He has taken it back to the office and it'll sit collecting dust.
 

SwiftLives

macrumors 65816
Dec 7, 2001
1,339
240
Charleston, SC
There's usually a little sticker on the back of the sign which has the city contact info on it. I know this since I had some signs confiscated in college (that I had found in a trashcan, so they were legally mine. Not that I'm bitter).

Lesson?

Remove the sticker, and then suddenly it becomes an item purchased at an antiques store several years ago :)
 

MacVixen

macrumors 6502
Jan 26, 2009
385
0
Santa Cruz, CA
So are all street signs, whether a decade or a day old...illegal to have in your possession?

Do these things not exist outside the realm of govt municipalities and the like? Anytime I see one at a yard sale, flea market or someone else's home or establishment...I have to assume its illegal!?

Ive acquired a "Slow Children at Play" sign...all metal, 100% city grade sign. Only thing about it is the backside of it (it was glued to these busted fake wood things in the development)...it was originally for a BBQ restaurant. Has their info and hours just like any typical business sign.

one side is a BBQ restaurant...the other is "Slow Children at Play"...I cant tell you how hilarious we all thought that was when it peeled from the glue.

So tell me...is the city now stealing local biz signs and then re-purposing them for city use!? And whats the point in trying to come into my home and take it from me, city worker or not. Its not even from the state I currently reside in...but being a generic sign (albeit with the local biz info on it) whose to say.
I'd say to follow SwiftLive's advice if you are that worried about it.
Private companies make these signs as well for private roads, company parking lots, etc. It's not only municipalities that have them. However, if it's a street name sign for a city-maintained street, odds are the sign belongs to the city and not just a private individual.

Don't know what to make about that last paragraph of yours, except to say no, the cities (my city anyway) is not stealing local biz sings and then re-purposing them for city use :confused::confused: But when someone is in a traffic accident and knocks out a sign that was installed by the city, or if someone is caught with signs in their possession that have "Property of City of _______ " on the back, then we ask for reimbursement. Not sure why that seems so scandalous :confused:
 

Sdashiki

macrumors 68040
Aug 11, 2005
3,512
8
Behind the lens
If you read my post you would find that the front of the sign was the children at play. When removed from its backing, it was glued not bolted, the backside (covered with silicone glue streaks) is a sign for a BBQ restaurant.

So, my facetious question was that someone stole the BBQ sign and then had a city sign printed on the backside, which then became the front...and that why would they do such a thing and not the reverse?

:rolleyes:
 

barkomatic

macrumors 601
Aug 8, 2008
4,027
1,798
Manhattan
Be glad the inspector took your sign. Street signs displayed as decorative objects in homes are incredibly tacky. The only thing worse is stolen traffic lights.
 

Sdashiki

macrumors 68040
Aug 11, 2005
3,512
8
Behind the lens
Be glad the inspector took your sign. Street signs displayed as decorative objects in homes are incredibly tacky. The only thing worse is stolen traffic lights.
Um, Ive never heard of anyone stealing or using a stolen traffic light as a decoration. Not just because they require actual physical feats to obtain, but also electrical knowledge to wire up at home.

I believe what you are referring to are the children's room things from like the 1950-1980s...available from SkyMall and Spencer Gifts.

And yes, like Silver Spoons before them, its tacky.
 

Paisleyskye

macrumors newbie
Dec 14, 2009
3
0
I've known lots of people who have done it over the years, but I've never known any of them to actually get in trouble for it.