It’s not like people are hooking up tow trucks in the middle of the night and ripping the giant Welcome to Wyoming signs out of the ground.
But Wyoming road signs are being stolen. Even the giant ones on Interstates as people enter the state.
“They take a chainsaw to the wooden posts and take them down,” said Wyoming Department of Transportation spokesperson Jordan Achs. “I don’t know how they haul them away.”
However they do it, it’s expensive for WYDOT. Each of those giant signs costs $3,000 apiece.
It’s expensive for the thief as well, if they get caught.
Because the cost of the sign is over $1,000, it’s considered a felony, and could be punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
The Human Price
Then there’s the human price. When a sign is removed, that’s a critical piece of information for drivers who don’t know the area.
“It can have serious implications for drivers when we warn of potential hazards or closures or anything coming up on the route,” Achs said.
Right now the problem is southeastern Wyoming. That’s where WYDOT is noticing some signs have disappeared.
A missing stop sign could lead to someone blowing through an intersection and becoming involved in a crash.
The person who stole the sign could be held accountable for the crash and they would have to live with knowing they were responsible for the accident.
Wyoming is certainly not alone when it comes to theft of signs.
Things got so bad for the town of Shitterton in the UK, townspeople gave up.
Because the metal signs were getting stolen so often, they engraved ‘Shitterton’ on four rocks, each weighing 3,000 pounds. None of the stones has been stolen.
The Devil’s Highway
Here in the U.S., three states had to sign a compact changing the name of Route 666 because people kept pilfering those road signs.
On May 31, 2003, Route 666 became U.S. 491 in the states of Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. People still call it “The Devil’s Highway” though.
New Jersey had the same problem with their Route 666. It didn’t take a compact to change the name, however, as it was all in the same state. The new name? Route 665 – and their signs no longer get stolen.
Other signs that are stolen often, according to pop culture website 11points, include:
Katie’s Crotch Road, New Portland, Maine