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      Road signs in Northeast Missouri are being vandalized

      Close up of paintball vandalism. / Photo by: Chad Douglas

      Spring arrives Friday, and you can already see signs of it.

      The grass is getting greener, the days are getting longer, and road signs are getting vandalized.

      It's a problem every year, road signs get stolen or damaged.

      This year, a new problem has come up in Northeast Missouri, and it could jeopardize your safety.

      "There's a reason signs are out there, whether it be a stop sign or road signs that provide names so people know where they're going," says Paula Gough, MODOT's District 3 Engineer.

      This year, MODOT's seeing a problem with paintballs being shot at the sign. These two signs are in Gough's office. One of them had only been up for two weeks before it was vandalized.

      "One of the concerns is, yes, they can be washed off. It does take some special material and labor to wash them," says Gough.

      But the signs have a special reflective sheeting so they can be seen at night.

      "Paintballs actually destroy some of how that works," says Gough.

      So, a lot of times, even though the signs can be washed, the effectiveness of them is destroyed, they have to be recycled.

      "We have to look at the cost of the sign which can range from $100 to thousands of dollars depending on the size. But also, the labor costs to be out there. Some of the larger signs take multiple people and special equipment to replace," says Gough.

      Gough says as a result, people are pulled off other jobs like fixing pot holes or bridge maintenance. The signs even state on them that if caught, the person responsible will face up to a thousand dollar fine and up to a year in prison.

      If you see of any signs that are damaged or missing, you're asked to call MODOT's toll free number 1-888-ASK-MODOT so crews can get the signs replaced.