October 24 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 31  

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Cops crack down on road sign theft

By Dan Perry
Gazette Staff

Matt Prince/Gazette
THE DAMN LAW, ALWAYS STEALING OUR SIGNS... OH WAIT, WE STOLE THEIR SIGNS. The London Police Department has made a strong effort to reclaim stolen signs across London.

If you can describe your apartment's decor by "Signs/Signs/Everywhere are signs...," then you could be arrested one week from today.

A one-day investigation Wednesday turned up over 100 road signs, 45 of which were on display at the London Police Department headquarters for a media conference yesterday. London, Western and Fanshawe's police services have jointly imposed a one-week moratorium in which students who have traffic signs can turn them in, with no questions asked.

Ward 3 Councillor Bernie MacDonald reported receiving several complaints from residents and taking the information to the police services board where "quick action" was taken. "This is just the tip of the iceberg," he said.

LPD Staff Sgt. Jack Churney, of the traffic and community services section, said police knocked on some doors in student-populated areas - like Fleming St. near Fanshawe and several streets in Northeast and Northwest London. "Now, it's up to you to turn them in," he said, adding the crackdown was over.

Const. Elgin Austen from the Campus Community Police Service called street-sign stealing a "student tradition."

"Often, there's liquor involved; returning from bars, [students] will steal a sign as a trophy, not thinking of the consequences," Austen said, adding consequences include both traffic accidents in places where signs are missing and the future implications of a criminal record.

Glenn Matthews, Off-Campus Housing liaison officer for Western and Fanshawe, said housing had no prior knowledge of the blitz, but thought it was more about safety than about targeting students.

"The concerns are about stolen stop signs and accidents," Matthews said, adding it is not uncommon for the police to focus on areas where traffic accidents and sign thefts coincide.

Churney said investigators told students, "you know you shouldn't have the signs," and to turn them over; if residents refused, police threatened to return with search warrants and press charges of mischief and/or possession of stolen property.




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