While two cities in Florida are using robocalls to go after the people who litter their roadsides with illegal “snipe” or “bandit” signs advertising everything from home-flippers to roofers to tax assistance, their neighbors to the north arrested a woman who took the law into her own hands.
The 64-year-old retired clerk tells Macon’s Telegraph newspaper that she’s snatched up around 1,950 such signs since she began her one-person campaign in June.
“I had researched the codes and regulations very carefully. I wanted to make sure I was OK. I wanted to do the right thing,” she explains. “I call it community service work.”
But last month, she was arrested after an advertiser complained that the woman had picked up an A-frame sign for some sort of gold-buying operation that had been placed at the entrance to an out-of-business Food Lion store.
The assistant solicitor-general in the case chose to drop the charges, partly because he couldn’t reach anyone involved with the Food Lion to see if the advertiser had gotten permission, and partly because the way police described the sign’s location means it would have been illegally placed in a right-of-way.
“I don’t think that the taking of a sign from a public area constituted a theft by taking,” he tells the paper.
While the woman no longer faces charges, the arrest has changed the way in which county officials view her crusade.
Previously, she had taken the collected signs to the county for disposal, but now refuses to do so, on advice of the county attorney. Instead, the woman and others have been directed not to collect the signs, but to notify the county’s Engineering Dept or Sheriff and “the County will make every effort to have the signs removed.”
But her lawyer writes that this only means that the signs will remain untouched: “The innumerable signs presently in the right-of-ways of the streets and roads… stand as clear evidence of the Board of Commissioners’ tolerance — if not encouragement — of this illegal advertising practice.”
However, the woman’s County Commissioner can only sing her praises.
“This lady is a hero to me, picking up all this trash at her age, had to go hire a lawyer to make sure she didn’t have to go to jail,” he says. “I’m disappointed in that, because she basically did what I told her to do.”
Thanks to Lauren for the tip!