Damaged and stolen street signs have become an expensive and time-consuming problem for City of Plattsburgh work crews.
"I don't know what the attraction is, but they go after the street signs," Public Works Superintendent Mike Brodi said.
So far this year, the city has spent more than $9,000 to replace or repair lost or damaged signs. The expenditure is expected to eclipse the total of about $10,000 spent in 2010.
Only $5,856 was spent in 2009 on sign damage, indicating that the interest in destructing or stealing signs is up.
"I don't know what the answer is, but it is getting rather expensive," Brodi said.
Most of the sign damage occurs in the Center City area, which is heavily populated with college students. The downtown area and neighborhoods leading away from downtown are also popular haunts for sign wreckers.
The most attractive target appears to be the Weed Street sign.
"I can see why someone would want that, but I don't know why they would want any of these other signs," Brodi said.
MOSTLY CENTER CITY
Most of the damage occurs between midnight and 3 a.m. A list of the sign damage shows that the vandalism can occur on any night of the week.
"I don't want to blame one group, but the Center City is where most of it is," Brodi said.
Revelers often will pull on the top of the sign until the brackets holding it in place snap off.
"It's got to take some time, because these signs are strong," Brodi said.
He has tried ordering larger, stronger brackets, but they too fall victim to the vandals.
When a sign is broken, a Public Works staffer must take it back to the shop, then, if it can be fixed, bring it back and re-mount it. Or, a new sign has to be made if the damaged sign cannot be fixed.
The cost of replacing a sign runs about $65. The hardware to mount it costs about $58, and the labor is about $40.
The city has stamped all signs saying they are City of Plattsburgh property in case any are recovered in someone's possession.
"Then we can charge them with possession of stolen property," Brodi said.
For those caught damaging signs or in possession of signs, the penalties can range from community service to restitution.
Mayor Donald Kasprzak is hoping the public can help out.
"This is a problem that seems to be increasing, and it is becoming very costly and time consuming," he said.
"I would hope people would call the police if they see something."
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