Sign vandalism costing ratepayers


Signs being knocked over and vandalised are putting lives in danger, and are costly to ratepayers...
Signs being knocked over and vandalised are putting lives in danger, and are costly to ratepayers. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Vandalised signs in the Hurunui District are hitting ratepayers in the pocket and putting lives at risk.

There has been a spate of damage to give way, stop, railway warning signs, and speed limit signs over the past few months on the district’s roads, as well as trail marker signs on the St James Cycle Trail.

Hurunui Police Sergeant Rob Irvine says road signs are generally targeted by larger vehicles such as four-wheel-drives and big sedans like Commodores and Falcons, which are also used as skid cars.

Anecdotally he has heard the offenders are young people.

‘‘It appears people are doing it for kicks and don’t realise the potential consequences of their actions if the signs cannot be read or seen, or have been removed,’’ he says.

The public can report this behaviour to the police by dialling 111 or *555 if it is happening at the time, or *105, with details of licence plate, model of vehicle, time and location.

Reports of sign damage by firearms has been seen and reported on the St James Cycle Trail, and on signs closer to Hanmer Springs.

This is a whole different safety aspect, says Sergeant Irvine.

He urged the use of the Rural Lookout app, an easy-to-use method for reporting crime which is instant and accurate.

It gives us a good picture of where the crimes are happening because it has geolocation.

Mark Inglis, St James Cycle Trail manager, has been saddened by the bullets that have gone through the signs he and his trail network team has worked hard to design and install.

The frustrating damage includes fences and gates where the offenders can gain access.

He listed Acheron Road, Tophouse Road, Edwards Road, and Mailings Pass as targeted areas. The damage is mostly in areas where the vandals can drive to.

‘‘The real worry is that people are parallel to the track when they’re firing generally — at night. This is also illegal on public conservation land,’’ he says.

A well-used trail is a safe trail, he says, and urges recreationists to continue to use them.

Mr Inglis does attempt to repair the graffiti-damaged signs, and those which have been knocked over, as best he can, but bullet holes are not so easy to fix.

Replacement signs cost between $70 to $1000, which is a cost to the very limited trail maintenance funds. It also means the funds are not available to maintain the trails.

Mr Inglis urges people to contact him if they see damage in the St James Conservation area, through the St James Cycle Trail Facebook page, or by contacting the Department of Conservation.

Hurunui District Council’s Operations Manager Roading Charlie Hutt says it is the responsibility of councils to replace damaged signs, but it’s a cost they would rather not have to meet from the rates.

‘‘We strive to provide the best services to our communities throughout the district, and it’s frustrating when we have to spend money on this as a result of people’s bad behaviour, instead of on key infrastructure and essential community needs.’’