Park County Sheriff: Stolen Signs Can Lead to Serious Charges
Written by Andrew-Rossi on January 21, 2021
After the theft of another traffic sign, the Park County Sheriff says this “harmless prank” can have serious consequences – misdemeanors, injuries, and deaths.
The Park County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that they’ve received another call of multiple stolen traffic signs. This is the latest in a series of similar sign thefts reported throughout 2020.
A partial list of the stolen signs includes STOP signs, CURVE AHEAD signs, and road names signs. In May 2020, the UXU Ranch sign was stolen from its location on the North Fork Highway in an incident that may or may not be related to the ongoing wave of sign thefts.
Road signs are not frivolously placed – their locations are specifically chosen due to hazards in the areas that need to be indicated for vehicles and drivers.
This isn’t a victimless crime for local law enforcement, and it’s clear that patience is running thin. In a statement released yesterday, Park County Sheriff Scott Steward “laid out the law” on the consequences of these thefts.
“It may seem like a harmless prank, but the consequences of these actions can be far-reaching,” the sheriff said. “Traffic signs are there for a reason, to help protect the drivers on the road.”
Specific incidents were cited as the unintended but real consequences of missing signage:
- In 1997 three teenagers died in Hillsborough County, Florida when a Mack truck hit their vehicle in an intersection where a stop sign had been stolen. Manslaughter charges were brought against the persons that stole the sign.
- A crash caused by a stolen stop sign in Shiawassee County, Michigan left a teenage boy in ICU and with severe brain damage in 2018.
- In 2019 a serious accident that occurred in Benton City, Washington, where two people were injured and extradition from the vehicle was needed, was also caused by a stolen stop sign.
The Sheriff’s Office is investigating all the sign thefts, at their own expense. If they find the guilty persons, they will be prosecuted.
“Significant fines” are just the beginning . . .
Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric search Wyoming laws and laid out some of the possible charges facing sign thieves if the missing sign is a factor in a serious incident:
Manslaughter (W.S.S. 6-2-105)
- A person is guilty of manslaughter if he unlawfully kills any human being without malice, express or implied, involuntarily, but recklessly. Punishment is imprisonment for not more than 20 years.
Negligent Homicide (W.S.S. 6-2-107)
- A person is guilty of criminally negligent homicide if he causes the death of another person by conduct amounting to criminal negligence. Punishment is not more than one-year imprisonment and not more than a $2,000 fine – or both.
Reckless Endangering (W.S.S. 6-2-504)
- A person is guilty of reckless endangering if he recklessly engages in conduct that places another person in danger of death or serious bodily injury. Punishment is imprisonment for not more than one year.
Any of these charges can be added to someone found guilty of sign theft – especially if there is an injury or death.
Anyone having any information about any and all of these sign thefts is encouraged to call 307-754-8700 or 307-527-8700.
The Park County Sheriff’s Office also offers a “Tip Line” that can be utilized at https://www.parkcountysheriff.net/tip-line/. The “Tip Line” is not monitored 24 hours a day and should never be used in an emergency.