FORSYTH, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Monroe County has a serial thief on the loose and it’s costing tax payers thousands of dollars.
Investigators with the sheriff’s office are looking for thousands of dollars worth of stolen road signs they say have been taken over the last two months and the person responsible. Lt. Lawson Bittick says they’ve dealt with issues of pranks or dares to take signs in the past but never to this extent.
“Well the reaction initially you would’ve thought they were teenagers–young men and young women stealing these signs but with this number, that’s just unusual for us to have to ask for the public’s assistance and create an active investigation related to these thefts,” Bittick told 41NBC.
What he and other investigators in Monroe County say they thought may have been an innocent joke, is no laughing matter.
“We’ve had a rash of sign thefts up to approximately 50 to 75 signs taken particularly in the northern section of our county,”he said.
Of those 75 signs, 10 were reported missing over the weekend–bringing the total value in stolen property to $11,000.
“One sign, the average cost if we’re just using general numbers, is about $160 to replace per sign,” he added.
Though tax payer dollars are what’s being used to replace the signs, Bittick says their main concern is safety for drivers who aren’t familiar with the area.
“The money is one thing. Obviously we want to determine who’s stealing it, but we don’t want this to happen and some person that’s just driving down the street get killed for something as simple as a road sign being missing,” he continued.
Bittick says the sheriff’s office is committed to catching the person or people who did this by increasing patrol and even setting up cameras in areas where signs were stolen.
The person or people responsible could face up to 15 years in prison for theft by taking, damage to government property and other charges.
If you see any suspicious activity you’re urged to contact the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office at 478-994-7010.