THE motive behind the theft of STOP signs at a number of locations in the county, including Dunmanway, remains a mystery and is the subject of an active garda investigation.
Gardaí confirmed that they are investigating three incidents of the thefts of signs between March and September. It is not clear if the signs were cut down for scrap or if it was just vandalism, or a student prank.
Speaking to The Southern Star, Cllr Declan Hurley said he is very concerned that these acts of vandalism are taking place, especially at a junction on the outskirts of Dunmanway.
‘The theft of these STOP signs could lead to a serious road traffic collision, as drivers not familiar with some junctions in the area may not be aware that they need to stop,’ said Cllr Hurley.
‘There is also a cost of replacing these signs which will come out of the road budgets, which could mean that road maintenance for some areas could be postponed.’
Cork County Council said they regard the thefts as a very serious road safety issue that puts lives at risk and confirmed that they have ordered the replacement signs, which they say will be replaced as a matter of priority. ‘STOP signs are classified as regulatory road signage which is the most important class of road signs as these signs legally require the driver to obey a specific direction. The removal of the signs is a dangerous occurrence as they are deployed at minor to major road intersections where visibility at the junction may be restricted.’
County mayor Cllr Gillian Coughlan said that what has happened across these locations is of immense concern. ‘Cutting down or stealing a STOP sign is not a game. It puts all our road users at risk. It can lead to serious crashes if drivers are not aware that they need to stop at a junction,’ said Cllr Coughlan.
‘I am urging people to report any suspicious activity and to please think of the possible ramifications of how these actions could impact on innocent victims.’
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said it’s an ‘absolute disgrace’ that people are interfering with road safety and putting lives at risk.