MARION COUNTY, Iowa -- An unusual crime is causing concern in Marion County
Road signs have been disappearing almost every day for the past week, but the head of the county’s engineering and road department said that’s not out of the ordinary.
“We do have a sign technician on staff and his job is to maintain and upgrade signs throughout the county,” Tyler Christian said.
But recently, the demand in new signs is due to frequent thefts.
“The individuals have been very creative. They’ve unbolted signs, cut rivets, pushed signs over with a vehicle, even cut the sign with some sort of saw,” Christian said.
Christian said it is as frequent as eight signs in eight days.
“The most important ones are stop signs, yield signs and stop ahead signs,” he said.
The amount it costs to repair and replace signs will quickly be felt in the pocketbooks of Marion County taxpayers.
“It’s costing $200 minimum to taxpayers each,” Christian said.
The rash of stolen signs has been found mainly near Pella, specifically in the Lake Prairie Township area. One stop sign recently replaced was at this busy three-way intersection in Marion County. Christian said it has gone beyond mischief and a nuisance and become highly dangerous.
“We don't just erect signs to erect signs,” he said. “It could be potentially severe. When a stop sign or yield sign is installed at an intersection, generally that means there was some type of public safety issue related to traffic at that intersection."
Christian said it's easy to identify the stolen signs because they say “Property of Marion County Roads Department” on the back.
While the county has been able to replace the damaged and stolen signs to this point, Christian urges the public to call the sheriff's office at 641-828-2220 with any information that can lead to the thieves.