WILLMAR — Kandiyohi County Public Works is not laughing about the continued theft of road signs, especially those that are instrumental to public safety.
"It is not the cost of the sign, but the cost of someone's life," which really has county staff concerned, said Mel Odens, Kandiyohi County Public Works Director at Tuesday's meeting of the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners.
In the past several weeks more than 20 road signs have been taken off county roads, 13 in the last week alone.
"We had two stolen yesterday, a stop sign and a yield sign just south of Spicer," Odens said.
Other signs stolen include detour, bridge restriction and stop ahead signs.
"It is dangerous," said County Administrator Larry Kleindl.
To urge those responsible to stop, the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners agreed to offer a seven-day amnesty. If the signs are returned and all theft of signs stop, the county will not prosecute. After Sept. 22 anyone caught will be prosecuted. The level of the charges will depend on the monetary value of the sign. However, if a crash occurs because of a stolen sign the sign thief could face charges connected to the crash as well.
"It is becoming more of a public safety matter with signs disappearing, especially with it getting darker," said Kandiyohi County Chief Deputy Julie Wyffels.
The majority of the signs seem to be disappearing from the northeastern part of the county. Odens said he received a call from the Meeker County sign department about stolen signs as well, near the county line.
Odens said stolen signs can just be dropped off at the county public works garage, no questions asked, at least for the next week.
"Just drop them off at the gate," Odens said.
The county is asking for the public's help as well, to report anything or if they end up finding signs on their property.
"If you are seeing something that is odd, make sure to call it in to our office," Wyffels said.