Amish traffic signs being stolen — again
ESCANABA — The Delta County Sheriff’s Department received a report on May 3 that two Amish alert signs had been stolen from County Rd. 426. The two signs were located on roads within the Escanaba and Cornell Townships. These thefts create a total of seven Amish alert signs that has been stolen from various roads throughout Delta County in just a two year time frame.
Four of these signs were stolen during the later months of 2019.
After Amish families moved into Delta County during the summer of 2019, the Delta County Road Commission installed six Amish alert signs on a number of county roads in both Cornell and Escanaba Townships to alert those driving in the area. The signs, yellow diamonds that depict a horse-drawn buggy, warn motorists that they may have to share the roadway with Amish travelers who occupy the shoulder when traveling.
On Sept. 9 and Sept. 21 in 2019, the first four Amish signs were reported to the sheriff’s department as stolen, two signs stolen on each date. In these incidents, the posts holding the signs were removed from the ground as well, meaning that the thief had to dislodge the pole from 3-foot deep concrete to obtain it. The signs were never returned, and the Delta County Road Commission replaced them all.
In the recent May 3 incident, only the signs were removed with the poles being left in place. As a result of the 2019 thefts, a camera was placed on at least one of the Amish alert signs in Delta County. According to the May 3 sheriff’s report, there was no indication that there was a camera at the scene of the crime.
The Delta County Road Commission is no longer replacing the Amish alert signs unless the township requests and pays for them. The current price for the alert signs is $80 each.
The theft of these signs raise a number of safety concerns for both the Amish community and motorists traveling the county roads. Horse-drawn buggies travel at a much slower rate than automobiles, which can catch motorists off-guard when traveling at high speeds. These buggies are also not built to endure high-level impact like most modern vehicles, which are equipped with seat-belts, airbags, and other protective measures.
Drivers in Delta County should be cautious when traveling county roads, for members of the Amish community travel to and from Escanaba and Gladstone for shopping needs. When coming into contact with a buggy, it is important to slow down and pass with care, leaving plenty of room between vehicles to ensure safety.
Before the 2019 thefts had even occurred, the Delta County Sheriff’s Department worked with the Amish community to have more Amish alert signs installed on the county roads. The request for more signs was due to increased safety concerns within the Amish community regarding the seriousness of automobile-buggy crashes.
Just over three months ago, there was an automobile accident involving a horse-drawn buggy in Michigan. On March 10, 2022 in Montcalm County, a buggy had been struck from the front by a pick-up truck that crossed the center line. The two occupants of the buggy were left seriously injured and their horse died. Their buggy, which had flipped upon impact, had endured significant damage.
After the 2019 thefts, local authorities urged thieves to return the Amish alert signs to no prevail. The signs, which are uncommon in comparison to your average stop sign, are hard to come by. Because they have to be specially made, or not readily in stock, the time to replace them is much longer than usual.
The Delta County Road Commission is asking the public report any information on the theft and vandalism of the Amish alert signs to the Delta County Sheriff’s Office at 906-786-3633.