People who partake in stealing street signs do so for a variety of reasons, and may assume it's all harmless fun. However, street signs are designed to increase driver safety on the road, and stealing them can result in fines, prison time or worse.
The penalty for stealing a street sign varies depending on where the offense takes place. For example, in Columbia, Missouri, the City Council passed an ordinance stating that those caught in possession of a stolen street sign will be sent to jail for a maximum of 90 days and pay a fine of up to $500.
Stealing street signs doesn’t only result in fines, but it also costs the city a fair share in order to replace them. For example, the Ministry of Transportation in Nova Scotia, Canada had to pay $30,000 to replace the street signs that were stolen in 2002. In 2006, the city of Columbia, Missouri had to pay $100,000 in order to replace stolen street signs.
In 1996, three individuals uprooted a stop sign in Tampa, Florida and, as a result, caused the death of three teenagers. The teenagers, who were driving in a Camaro, drove into an intersection and collided with an 8 ton truck because there was no stop sign. The three defendants received 15 years each and, under Florida law, must serve at least 13 years each before becoming eligible for parole.