In recent weeks, Mill Valley has seen a rise in road sign thefts and vandalism. While stealing a sign might seem like a harmless prank, the act can have serious ramifications. Stealing a sign poses a significant safety threat to our city and can cause confusion for drivers and lead to harmful situations. Road signs are not placed arbitrarily, and the lack of a stop sign, yield sign, or other traffic sign can have disastrous consequences. As we all know, the Miller Avenue Streetscape Project is well under way. The current construction work already creates complications for drivers, and removing additional signs can cause further confusion and can lead to traffic collisions or serious injury.
The temporary stop signs that have been placed in the construction sites on Miller Avenue have been the main target of theft. A missing stop sign poses the greatest hazard to our streets. A sign theft can result in a significant accident.
There are also legal complications. Signs are public property, and California Penal Code Section 484 and 602(f) makes it a misdemeanor to steal, alter, or vandalize road signs. Punishment can include jail time or a fine of up to $2000.
Furthermore, if such an offense results in an accident or harm to an individual, the person responsible for the sign theft can be held liable. If the accident results in serious injury or death, the person responsible can face felony charges, including manslaughter, in addition to facing claims in civil court.
Those who see suspicious activity or someone possessing a sign are asked to report the incident to the Mill Valley Police Department, 415-389-4100.