ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Albuquerque Police said an officer caught a man in the act stealing traffic signs and he wasn’t stealing them for a frat house.
Police arrested Carlos Trujillo, 37, on Tuesday after he tried to take a speed limit sign down on Albuquerque’s west side near Central and Coors, according to a criminal complaint.
An officer who had been watching from a distance said Trujillo wore a reflective vest and said he was working for a construction company, taking down damaged signs. When the police officer asked to see a work order, Trujillo handed him a clipboard with a handwritten note.
Police said Trujillo had eight traffic signs in the back of his Honda Civic and, when checking with the city, police confirmed no one had been hired to remove signs in the area.
Each sign costs the city $150 to buy and put up.
“The street signs do have some hardware on them that do make them a little difficult to unscrew,” said Mark Motsko, city spokesman for the Municipal Development Department.
Motsko said the signs are made of aluminum.
While thieves may try to sell it as scrap metal, the city said local salvage yards should know when signs are stolen.
“Each street sign has the City of Albuquerque marking on the back of them, so when the salvage companies see that they won’t buy them, or they’re not supposed to buy them,” Motsko.
The city said it searched the area where Tuesday’s arrest was made and replaced any major signs missing, such as one-way street and stop signs.