Cops crack down on road sign theft
By Dan Perry
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.