Signing Up A Thief

Lawn signs — which really should be called “traffic island signs,” but that takes too long to say — are an easy, cost-effective way of advertising a political campaign, non-profit fundraiser, school play or sports tryouts.

Plenty of Westporters don’t like them. They clutter the landscape. Plus, many individuals and organizations ignore town regulations governing their placement and duration.

But one person really hates them. He (or she)* deliberately removed several signs from the North Avenue traffic circle at Long Lots Road. Others were taken from Bulkley Avenue and Greens Farms Road.

We can’t tell whether the vigilante took signs for non-profits, candidates, or both. All the evidence is gone.

Well,  not all. The metal frames remain.

The traffic circle at Long Lots and North Avenue.

That’s a deliberate act.

You can love the signs. You can hate them.

But you can’t take them.

And you sure can’t take them, leaving only the frames behind.

That just advertises you’re a jerk.

* Though for some reason I’d bet anything it’s a guy.

30 responses to “Signing Up A Thief

  1. Someone also removed all the signs at Cross Highway and Weston Road and Cross Highway and North Avenue. Total wipe out.

  2. P.S. They were all non-profit signs and candidate signs.

  3. Actually, the signs are lying on the ground at the bottom of Clapboard Hill Rd. At least there they haven’t been taken. It’s still very disturbing.

    • Homes with Hope uses signs to advertise events that hundred of people come to. We do it in complete compliance with the ordinances of the Town that govern signs. We have Town approval for placing signs on Town property for this year’s Stand Up for Homes with Hope on Nov. 2 and we will be putting them up soon – per those regulations – on designated Town property. In the meantime, we thank those friends who put up signs on their private property. I hope everyone respects this major and historically effective means of communication within the Town.

  4. Someone took signs from in front of my home on North Ave., including a sign for Stand Up for Homes with Hope!

  5. Honest questions Why can’t you take them if they are legally put there and therefore basically litter? And don’t the nice people who pay for the traffic island’s beautification get robbed of their investment? – Chris Woods

    • If they are legally put there — and in compliance with federal, state and local laws regarding the placement of signs — then they are not legally defined as or considered litter, and taking them without permission is considered theft.

      I think whether or not the nice people who work on beautifying the places where signs are placed feel robbed by the sign placement can vary from person to person, so it’s a difficult if not impossible question to answer.

      Regardless, if the signs are in compliance with federal, state and local laws regarding signs, removing them because you don’t like them is no different than destroying a beautification project because you don’t like it.

      Laws governing the use of public spaces reflect the diversity and sometimes conflicting views, needs and desires of a diverse public. If you don’t like the laws, the best approach is to try and change them through legal processes.

      • Everyone knows that 95% of the signs we see are illegally placed.

        No one follows the regs (only 15 pre-approved by location, FYI) because there is no enforcement. So the incentive is to actually create more visual pollution as in the “tragedy of the commons” and we end up with a mess that often creates a traffic hazard.

  6. Is there an enforceable law on the books should someone ever get caught in the act of stealing?

    • Yes. If the signs are in compliance with federal, state and local laws regarding the placement of signs, then taking them without permission is considered theft.

  7. I dunno, I kinda think the person deserves a medal.

  8. Did Westport experience some 25-40 mph wind gusts the over the past few days?

  9. One big problem I find with the signs is that they block oncoming traffic, especially if you’re turning. You can’t see oncoming cars and have to creep slowly into the road in order to see. This is especially true at the traffic islands at Long Lots and Sturges Highway, Maple Avenue North and North Avenue.

    I also wonder if anyone decided to cast their vote based on a lawn sign.

  10. Yeah give him the metal he leaves behind. This is dangerous and selfish. Some of the spots like the big triangle at Main/Easton/Weston road gets mowed and the metal could get thrown at cars or the person mowing. People could get cut by the rusting metals left and its totally an environmental nightmare with dozens of metals just left there. Most non profits and campaigners do a good job of policing up the signs when the event is over and reuse many of them for the next time.

    Bottom line Lawn signs are the most effect way for non profits to promote events that our community loves. We go the Town Farm, we go to the Playhouse and the Homes with Hope event and I know people come to the Dog Festival and Slice of Saugatuck. And as for Political signs, its called free speech and they will be gone Nov 6.

  11. Kathleen Bennewitz

    I saw a man carrying signs away to his car (white SUV) at North ave and Easton Rd (by CES) this past Tuesday pm around 945 as we drove by. The area had been completely cleared.

  12. Hi guy let the police no ASAP Wehn. Sign are takeing ok the police should sense out a press release ASAP thanks. Sal liccione

  13. Thx 4 the info

    Get Outlook for iOS ________________________________

  14. I was just about to write Dan with the sequel to WHO IS JOE: WHERE ARE SOME OF JOE’S SIGNS? Obviously the perpetrator(s) who steal any signs either believe their position on signs is correct and therefore they have the right to take/destroy them OR they are politically motivated and believe cheating is acceptable. Either way it is a sad commentary on these individuals and shaming them is probably ineffective. Let’s encourage them to grow up.

  15. Andrew Colabella

    These reusable signs are purchased for the use of freedom of speech for candidates, and advertising of town events, functions and fundraisers.

    The islands are maintained by private contractors but are essentially town right of way property, therefore, free for public to use as a means of signage as long as it does not disturb posted street and traffic signage.

    Taking of these signs is theft. Removal of these signs from private property is trespassing and theft. There is a fine attached to these, but if caught, being publicly shamed is far worse.

    If you see a sign down, put it back up. If it’s passed its date, contact the owner!

    It’s nice to see candidates from across the town and political spectrum take pride in their position they wish to be elected to. Remember, we’re a town that cares.

    > >

  16. Andrew Colabella

    These reusable signs are purchased for the use of freedom of speech for candidates, and advertising of town events, functions and fundraisers.

    The islands are maintained by private contractors but are essentially town right of way property, therefore, free for public to use as a means of signage as long as it does not disturb posted street and traffic signage.

    Taking of these signs is theft. Removal of these signs from private property is trespassing and theft. There is a fine attached to these, but if caught, being publicly shamed is far worse.

    If you see a sign down, put it back up. If it’s passed its date, contact the owner!

    It’s nice to see candidates from across the town and political spectrum take pride in their position they wish to be elected to. Remember, we’re a town that cares.

    >>

  17. Lawn signs present a sticky topic for many. Part of the confusion may stem from the fact that some organizations comply with existing town ordinance, and others do not. Case in point, the many banners that are attached to our utility poles, or signs appearing in abundance on state roads. Regardless, the solution is never to take away, destroy or put on the ground to deteriorate.

  18. Robert Mitchell

    The only time it may be appropriate to remove a sign is when it is for a commercial establishment or service, not a not-for-profit or politician,. The town ordinance explicitly forbids the placement of those signs, and they do constitute litter. But if doing so, never take the sign and leave the metal stand – that is dangerous and equivalent to leaving a shopping cart in the middle of a parking lot, secure in the knowledge that someone else (!!) will return it to the store.

  19. David J. Loffredo

    They’re all ugly, good riddance, there are far easier and more effective ways to reach your target audience in 2019.

    • Matthew Mandell

      David – Please tell me a more cost effective way and I will try it. You know I run numerous events and social media is good, but it just does not do it like signs.

      • I’ve heard this “internet” thingie, might catch on. Perhaps use that as a marketing platform. I know. Crazy talk.

        If everyone does that, at least the signs (that cost so much) won’t end up in the transfer station as un-recyclable debris (by November 7th)

  20. There are towns that don’t permit such signage. I wonder how they get the word out?

  21. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70 BA, MA, JDE

    Everything else in terms of mass communication that used to be considered “off limits” now contains unwanted advertising. It’s gotten to the point where you can’t separate the ad content of anything from honest communication that exists without a politician, philosophy or product to push. IMHO, people posting signs in a residential area or on public property should do so at their own risk. Look at it this way; If the signage is removed, it must be because people/persons/police didn’t like/approve of them. Makes paying for expensive, subjective opinion research/polling unnecessary. They’re tearing down statues all over the country but no one seems to care about that.

  22. Please understand that these signs represent the best of what our democracy is about. They are in fact PUBLIC SERVICE by candidates for local elections and nonprofits who give huge amounts of their (our) uncompensated time and energy. We are not selling anything, we are giving to our community.

  23. I noticed that quite a few signs were knocked over by the wind and rain on Sunday. Judging by the posts here, it violates free speech and is illegal. Would the politicians who posted about this, please contact the police to arrest Mother Nature and restore law and order to our town? thankscyabye.

Commenters MUST fill out their real full names, and provide their real email addresses!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s