Stolen street signs hinder emergency responders, pose danger
Published 8:21 pm Friday, November 8, 2013
By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
“It’s a scary thing to have you child sick and the ambulance can’t find you.”
Those are the words of Santina Rogers, Lowndes County E911 director, regarding a rash of stolen street signs in the St. Clair area of Lowndesboro, as well as other locations in Lowndes County.
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Rogers cited a recent incident in which a woman in the Deerfield Court area with a daughter in a diabetic coma “had to wait 45 minutes for someone to get to her because (the ambulance) passed the road several times because they didn’t know where to go.”
She stressed that the ambulance couldn’t find the person “because the sign was gone.” And she said, “This is the perfect example: We need directional signs.”
According to Rogers, as of Friday, she had counted 12 street signs missing in the St. Clair area alone.
Lowndes County Commission Administrator Jacquelyn (Jackie) Thomas said the signs are $14.95 each not counting the poles. She also said that last year the county spent more than $4,700 replacing street signs.
“It’s for EMS (Emergency Medical Services), police…” Rogers said. “If there is an emergency, we have to know where to go in order to help somebody.”
She said global position system units (GPS devices) won’t help because some streets are not listed on GPS maps.
Rogers said, “The issue we are having with the signs… people are taking the signs down. They’re not only just taking the signs down, they’re removing the poles with the signs.”
She said she had no idea what is being done with the stolen street identifiers. “We’ve not caught anybody, as far as I know, taking the signs down. And I’m assuming they’re doing them at night.”
She noted that signs are also being stolen in other areas of the county, as well.
According to Rogers, the signs belong to the county, but her office keeps records on where they need to be put up.
Lowndes County Engineer David Butts said he was familiar with the problem. “We’re the ones that have to put them up when they take them down,” he said.
Butts said he wished the perpetrators could be caught and punished not only for the safety issue, but, “It has my guys doing something there that they could be doing somewhere else and it costing the county and tax payers money for the signs and poles.”
He also said it could take three to five working days to get the sign up during which there could be an emergency.
Lowndes County Commissioner Brenson Crenshaw said, “We’re looking for alternatives besides those metal signs.”
He also said the county has had a rash of thefts of the signs not only in Lowndesboro but other areas of the county.
He said it was not only 911, but also emergency first responders who need to find correct addresses.
“So, we’re looking into other options to curtail that cost because it is expensive,” Crenshaw said, “They are not only taking them down, but vandalizing them, changing the names.”
He said, “But we’re doing everything we can to correct the problem or get it solved some kinds of way.”
He said, “If we can just get the citizens to think of how much danger they are putting themselves and someone else in when it could be a life saving matter if they (emergency personnel) can’t get the direction of where the street is.”