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Teens accused of stealing stop sign could face jail time

Teens accused of stealing stop sign could face jail time

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Two College Station teens could face jail time after police accused them of stealing a stop sign from the intersection of Wellborn Road and Fidelity Street.

It was almost 3 a.m. on Nov. 4 when a College Station police officer caught sight of the teens heading south on Wellborn Road while carrying the stop sign still attached to a broken pole, according to the probable cause affidavit for their arrest.

The teens, ages 18 and 19, dropped the sign and took off when the officer turned on his emergency lights near Southland Street, police said.

Police found one of the teens "sitting in the fetal position" inside a dumpster in the 1400 block of Wellborn Road and arrested the other at his apartment after learning his identity, according to the report.

Both admitted to breaking off the stop sign and trying to carry it back to the apartment to hang up, officers said in the court document.

They were charged with theft of $50 to $500, a Class B misdemeanor, as well as evading arrest, a Class A misdemeanor. Their bond was set at $6,000 each.

Stolen traffic signs and street name signs are not uncommon, Lt. Chuck Fleeger said, noting that stop signs and street name signs with significance to the thieves are among the most snatched.

While stealing a traffic sign may not be among the most serious of crimes, Fleeger said it could have "serious unintended consequences," noting cases in which a stolen sign caused fatal car accidents.

"The sign is there for a reason and that's to control vehicular traffic," he said. "Anytime you remove that, it impairs the intended ability for the road to be controlled in a safe manner."

The city of College Station's Public Works Department reported that, on average, 12 street name signs are stolen each month -- the most popular being Hardwood Lane -- while about 50 stop signs are stolen each year.

Each time public works crews have to replace a sign, it costs the city between $150 and $300, said Troy Rother, traffic engineer.

He encouraged residents to notify police if they witness someone taking a sign or call public works as quickly as possible if they notice any missing.

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