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Kandiyohi County recovers dozens of stolen road signs, charges expected

Kandiyohi County officials have reported thefts of road signs since August, mostly in the northeastern part of the county, including the towns of Willmar, New London and Spicer. About three dozen signs and a construction barrel were recovered this week, and the investigation is continuing.

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The Kandiyohi County Board is offering a seven-day amnesty period for people to return stolen road signs. Following Sept. 22 the county will charge anyone caught stealing the signs. West Central Tribune file photo
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WILLMAR — More than 35 public works street signs and a construction barrel were recovered this week by the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office.

Several juveniles and young adults are likely to face charges of theft and criminal damage to property, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Office.

On Tuesday, the Kandiyohi County Public Works Department had opened a seven-day window for people to turn the signs in to avoid prosecution.

According to the Sheriff’s Office release, investigators recovered dozens of signs and the construction barrel Wednesday. The seizures followed interviews and searches of several homes.

County Public Works Director Mel Odens told the County Board this week that stealing signs is not a harmless prank.

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"It is not the cost of the sign, but the cost of someone's life," which concerned the county staff, he said.

Each sign costs about $150 to make and install, but the primary concern is the possibility of crashes at intersections where traffic control signs have been taken.

The signs stolen included stop, stop ahead and yield signs and others advising motorists of a detour or bridge restriction. Most thefts have been in the northeastern part of the county, and Meeker County has also reported stolen signs across the county line in that area.

The investigation is ongoing, according to the release. Anyone with information about other missing signs is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office tip line at 320-214-6700, ext. 6718.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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