LARAMIE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Department of Transportation has noticed an increase in sign theft over the last year.
More signs have been reported stolen each year, with common targets including the “Welcome to Wyoming” or “Entering Wyoming” signs. Other signs such as stop signs, traffic signs, and road signs have continued to be stolen as well. Stolen signs can lead to crashes and can pose dangerous conditions to travelers.
“Stolen stop signs cause a great risk to the traveling public. Travelers unfamiliar with an area can blow through an intersection and involve themselves and others in a crash they normally would have stopped or yielded to,” says Clyde Harnden, District 1 Traffic Supervisor.
The large “Welcome to Wyoming” signs cost upwards of $2,000–$3,000 to manufacture and replace, while the smaller “Welcome to Wyoming” signs range from $1,500 to $2,000.
Theft in the State of Wyoming, including sign theft, is broken into two theft levels — felony and misdemeanor. If the value of the stolen property or services is $1,000 or more, the person commits a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine; a person commits misdemeanor theft by stealing property or services valued at less than $1,000. The maximum penalty for misdemeanor theft is six months’ imprisonment and a $750 fine.
Defacing signs with stickers or markings also damages state property and can carry a fine if caught.
The cost to replace signs and posts as well as clean defaced and damaged signs comes out of the state highway maintenance budget, which is also used to clear snow, repair potholes, and maintain the highways.
Contact the Laramie District Office at 307-745-2127 to report a missing or stolen sign.