I read the article in The Great Bend Tribune: “A dangerous target --Vandalism to rural road signs a serious problem” (Dec 4). The article noted where Dale Phillips, Barton County Road and Bridge Director, showed the Barton County Commissioners an example of the near virtual destruction of a rural “stop sign” which was riddled with gunshot holes.
It was jaw-dropping to learn that, so far this year, 150 road signs had to be replaced due to vandalism in Barton County. The culprits may think that it’s fun--but it’s serious and costly...not just the cost of a replacement-sign, but also the manpower and wages to install another sign which again might be a target for future tampering or destruction. Taxpayers have to foot-the-bill. Even if the vandals are from another area. Everybody suffers because of such senseless, evil acts. As noted in the article: A vandal can be held responsible for an accident which occurs at the site where a road-sign was destroyed.
I agree with Mr. Phillips who said in the article that it’s good to get the word out and “make people more aware”. I like his sentiments, but I feel that this problem can be resolved by additionally implementing two other things:
Remedy A: Aggressive legal prosecution of those who are caught defacing or vandalizing city or county signs....entailing multiple-charges of damages to property; aggravated vandalism (if a gun was used); and endangering public safety.
Remedy B: A crime-stoppers program of “rewards” leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprit(s) involved. That would be an incentive to keep all people vigilant. Even the culprit(s) wouldn’t be sure if a supposed “buddy” might report them.
If both of those remedies were implemented it would “put some real teeth in the law” and possibly deter that awful trend of vandalism. As noted, rural roads can be treacherous enough, even with good road-signs, but anyone who tampers with road-signs is guilty of endangering public safety and should face so many criminal-counts that it should reach felony-status. The culprits need to read a different sign themselves, saying: “Intentionally putting people’s lives in jeopardy by sign-vandalism is a CRIME you may go to prison for”.
Impulsive or stupid criminals need a taste of teir own medicine----new public policy needs to be clear and adapt a slogan common to an old song lyric: “Vandal: Here’s YOUR SIGN” (of warning).
James A. Marples,