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July 1, 2014

Salem police recover dozens of stolen signs

Two men face charges for thefts over several weeks

SALEM, N.H. — Police said two men had enough street and road signs to mark a small town — even the hardware to attach them to poles.

For the last couple of weeks, street signs, traffic cones and barricades have been disappearing with alarming regularity.

But police believe they cracked the case Friday, Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten said.

And they have a lot of evidence: 27 street signs, five traffic control signs, three dead-end signs, two “no-outlet” signs, one “not-a-thru-street” sign, three traffic barricades, 27 traffic cones, a bag full of nuts and bolts, and the sign holders that bolt to the top of the pole, Patten said.

The evidence seized amounts to thousands of dollars worth of signs, he said.

Arrest warrants were issued for Christopher Mejia, 21, of Methuen on two felony charges, receiving stolen property and conspiracy to commit theft, and for Charles Foster, 19, of Salem on the same two felony charges.

Mejia turned himself in yesterday, Patten said, and was charged with a second count of receiving stolen property for a credit card theft. He was released on $5,000 personal recognizance.

Foster is expected to turn himself in later this week, Patten said.

It was through an investigation of another crime that Officer Robert Farrah identified one of the suspect’s. On Friday, Officer Steve McPherson located that suspect’s vehicle, Patten said, and one of the reportedly stolen street signs in plain view on the backseat.

Police continued to dig and found the rest of the missing signs, cones and barricades.

The sign thefts goes beyond people missing the turn for Streeter Avenue, Hoyt Street or Nathan’s Way, Patten said, it really became a matter of public safety.

“When you take down reflective signs, street signs, it affects first responders at night,” Patten said. “We’re not talking about a couple of missing signs. People don’t know about road issues, road hazards ahead. I don’t think they really understood the safety issue, not to mention the theft of public property.”

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