By Mike Linn
When it comes to street signs, popularity is in the name. Or the lane — as in Clovis’ Happy Lane.
Street signs notifying drivers of the intersection of Happy Lane and Stone Place have become a favorite among Clovis’ sign thieves, city officials say.
At one point, street department employees decided to weld the sign to its pole to keep it safe.
That didn’t work, though, Assistant City Manager Joe Thomas said.
“Someone would just about need a hacksaw to get it out,” Thomas said. “… They would have just about had to dig it up, but it just disappeared one day.”
Workers with the city’s street department have noticed a common trend when it comes to street signs: If it has a hip name, it’s likely to get swiped.
City street workers have to replace the sign for Happy Lane and Stone Place about once every four to six weeks, according to Kevin Musick, the city’s traffic/patrol supervisor.
Signs at the Wrangler Street/Rodeo Drive, Player Place/Norris Street and Player Place/Glenarm Drive intersections get swiped at about the same frequency, Musick said.
Also popular among thieves are streets bearing a woman’s name.
“Any street with a girl’s name usually won’t last long,” Music said. “I guess guys steal it because it’s their girlfriend’s name.”
Prosecuting sign thieves can be difficult, Musick said.
“It’s hard to catch them,” he said. “What happens more often is parents of children who have gone off to college will return the signs.”
The signs cost $28 to replace, unless the thief feels extremely greedy and goes after the pole on which the sign is attached. That costs $78, and the taxpayers flip the bill.
Portales officials have been lucky, mostly because it’s rare somebody would want to steal a sign named by a letter of the alphabet, according to Portales Street Superintendent Joe Parie.
“Maybe we’ll have to come up with some more popular signs … 16th and S — they don’t cut it,” Parie said.
Stolen signs are not an issue in Texico either, Police Chief John Mares said.
“Years ago everybody had to have a stop sign in their bedroom,” Mares said. “But we haven’t had a problem with people stealing signs (lately). I think that fad has kind of played itself out.”
Maybe in Texico. In Clovis the trend is in full swing, and according to Musick, shows no sign of letting up.