You can’t steal a sidewalk. At least that’s what the City of Eugene is hedging its bets on in the West University neighborhood.
Students returning to the area after a summer away may have noticed that although certain intersections — hint, hint: 420 — may still be without signs, you’ll be able to find High Street now that its name has been spray painted onto the curb.
Street sign theft isn’t exactly a new problem. According to the City of Eugene, nearly 1,000 street signs are replaced every year. And visitors to West University neighborhoods will notice that some avenues are more difficult to navigate than others.
On a recent afternoon, Henry and Kate Jinings — 2010 and 2012 grads, respectively — said that it’s easier to get around when there are clear markers for the streets near campus.
“I bet it’s really dangerous at night,” Kate said. “We knew the area well enough when we lived here, but we definitely had to use our cell phones to get around sometimes.”
Henry said that there were times he’d invite friends over only to give them directions by landmarks rather than street names because of the missing signs.
High Street’s signs are a common — and obvious — target for thieves. But back when Harry Potter movie premieres and book releases were an annual occurrence, Potter Street signs would also top the city’s list of of-stolen street markers.
The average cost to replace a stolen street sign is between $20 and $30. Much of it depends on the length of the sign. And the more expensive the sign, the more severe the penalty if you’re caught jimmying it loose — stealing the marker for Martin Luther King Jr., Boulevard, for example, might earn you a charge of first-degree theft, while Mill Street’s signage won’t bear quite as severe a penalty.
Although the city is under no legal obligation to maintain street signs, traffic signals are another story officials cite safety concerns as a reason to keep the roads marked.
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