East Lansing could start program to let people return stolen signs

EAST LANSING — Sometimes people in college towns can party a little too hard and then develop a hankering to steal street signs.

Then, when they sober up, they might have some regrets about stealing said signs; or at least city officials think so.

There are potential plans to implement a “sign amnesty” program for those “sticky-fingered” students, according to East Lansing University Student Commission discussions.

“There has been a rise in crime, stolen street signs and city-owned property,” according to one of the commission’s reports. “The question will be, what happens to all the property after all the students go home for the summer?”

East Lansing city staff declined to comment on the sign amnesty program at this time, East Lansing spokesperson Mikell Frey said in an email.

The sign amnesty program could help keep the property from ending up in the trash or on the banks of the Red Cedar River. And the city could get some signs back and perhaps save a little bit of money, according to commission documents.

Traffic moves along Albert Avenue in August 2021 in downtown East Lansing.

If the plan’s proposed, East Lansing would allow people to return street signs and posts that have been “appropriated,” no questions asked, from April 28 to May 13. People could leave the signs at city hall anonymously, either during business hours or after Hours by placing them on the doorstep during the last two weeks of the school year, according to commission documents.

The program would be modeled after other municipality programs, like Lamoine, Maine’s, and Morgantown, West Virginia’s, “Street Sign Amnesty to Sticky-Fingered Students.”

The program has been discussed at November, December and January meetings. It wasn’t clear from documents what would be done with the signs once returned or if only signs from a specific certain number of years could be returned, for those potentially harboring signs from the 1990s.

At past meetings, East Lansing Housing and University Relations Administrator Annette Irwin said street signs have been found in multiple student housing facilities. The public property is asked to be returned when spotted during housing inspections, according to meeting minutes.

The University Student Commission proposes programs and policies to improve student and community relationships and reviews city issues that potentially impact the student population.

The East Lansing University Student Commission’s next scheduled meeting includes a sign amnesty program work session at 5:15 pm Tuesday at East Lansing City Hall.

Contact Bryce Airgood at 517-267-0448 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @bairgood123.

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