Stolen street signs add up to big expense for City of Albuquerque

Stop sign

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque is spending about $100,000 a year replacing damaged or stolen street signs and officials say residents are partly to blame.

You probably don’t give them much thought, until one goes missing.

“Can you imagine if there wasn’t a stop sign at a busy intersection, the havoc that would result,” said Albuquerque Resident Harvey Buchalter.

Street signs help keep people safe on the road and they keep the city of Albuquerque busy, trying to replace damaged and missing ones.

“We either have knock-downs or graffiti or we’re trying to upgrade our signs, so it’s continuous,” said Acting Director of Municipal Development Melissa Lozoya.

Residents can use the 311 app to report missing or damaged signs. The city says it’s one of the most common reports they get. In turn, three crews a day do the repairs.

With a budget of only $100,000 a year they have to prioritize.

Lozoya said, “Knock-downs are important to us, because we want to be able inform the public as they’re traveling through the corridors of what they should be doing. We also do graffiti because sometimes the graffiti can block what the message is on the sign.”

But when a stop sign goes missing, the city says they obviously have no choice but to replace it right away. Crews in the field always have some on them, but at about $250 dollars a sign, replacing them, and other stolen signs, adds up.

“It is frustrating for our crews especially because they’re the ones out there replacing the signs, and they’re having to replace signs that maybe they have to replace the week before,” said Lozoya.

Some residents agree, saying it’s time stealing signs becomes a thing of the past.

“It’s stupid, get a life, really, don’t you have anything better to do,” said Buchalter.

The good news is, as the city replaces stolen or damaged signs, they’re putting up new ones, which fulfill a new federal requirement relating to how reflective they are.

City officials say while some people steal signs for fun, some try to sell them for their aluminum, but each sign has the City of Albuquerque marking on it, which is supposed to keep scrap yards from buying the metal. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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