Stolen Stop Signs
Timothy Welch of Gainesville says his daily bike ride has been getting dangerous.
"I've been noticing stop signs down on my way to work," he said.
Welch's job is in the "student ghetto" or the area just north of the University of Florida, where police say stop signs are disappearing.
"This number, this amount, this frequency that we're seeing them is very atypical of what we're used to," said Cpl. Tscharna Senn, Gainesville Police Department spokesperson.
More than 50 stop signs, according to police, have been stolen here since January.
"There are a lot of cars that drive in the area, a lot of people that walk, a lot of people that bicycle and so because of all of that, it's a recipe for a very very bad crash to happen," she said.
A missing stop sign has caused one minor crash this month according to police.
"I would probably think it is mostly college kids, late at night-a lot of kids think it's funny, take off stop signs, hang them in their room," said Elizabeth Andrews, a UF student.
"I don't think it's a big deal, they're just having fun," said Mark McKnight, a homeowner in the area.
However police say playing with stop signs is a big deal- a felony whether or not an officer sees you do it.
"If we're able to determine that someone has stolen a stop sign, they will go to jail," said Senn.
In 1997 three college aged people were sentenced to prison in Tampa, after three others were killed at an intersection from which they stole a stop sign. Their convictions were later overturned on a legal technicality.
Police say if you notice a stop sign is missing, contact them right away.
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