Someone Is Stealing Amish Buggy Signs (Delta County, Michigan)

Someone is swiping Amish buggy warning signs in Delta County, Michigan. After the latest round of thefts, the total of stolen signs is now four.

And this is not just the sign the thief is taking – whoever is doing it, is actually uprooting the post as well – from three feet of concrete.

Buggy sign in Delta County, MI. Photo by Clarissa Kell/Escanaba Daily Press

Is this a case of “aggression theft” against the Amish?

Or someone who is illegally harvesting the signs for their value (sign & post together are worth $90) – or both?

Regardless, last month’s theft – the second reported – does not help improve safety for the area’s Amish community, which was just founded this past summer.

I have quite often seen Amish buggy signs vandalized. It seems they make attractive targets (I saw this again in Virginia just this spring).

This buggy sign was target practice for someone in Cumberland County, VA (Farmville community)

I haven’t much heard of them being stolen, though.

I don’t think these signs are the most important factor in buggy safety. But they at least draw attention to the presence of buggies in an area.

Warning signs probably have more impact on outsiders passing through an area, than for those actually living there, who have already gotten used to horse-driven transport on the road.

But in a brand-new settlement like this one, signs probably do help alert locals to the buggies as well (though I’d think word would spread pretty quickly in a small community which has never seen Amish before).

Delta County Sheriff Ed Oswald says getting new signs will take some time:

Replacing the Amish alert signs is not an easy task. The signs aren’t common, so the Delta County Road Commission needs to special order more.

“These are specialty signs,” Oswald said. “I know there’s Amish communities all over the United States, but it’s not like a stop sign — they make these signs as you order them because they don’t keep them on stock. So, it takes some time to get an Amish sign and talking with the road commission, we’re very concerned and looking around trying to find the signs.”

He’s asked the thief or thieves to return the signs.

Planting buggy warning signs in new Amish areas is both a sign of goodwill from the local community, and a safety enhancement.

Of course, it’s better that it’s buggy signs than STOP signs being swiped…but it’d be best were it no signs at all.

Michigan is the state where, after all, two separate accidents have claimed a total of six Amish children’s lives just this year.

The signs will now be monitored by cameras to deter theft.

It’s nice to see the efforts from the local authorities on this. Hopefully this is the last of it.

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    6 Comments

    1. Idiots

      There are those among us English who delight in trying to harm those they do not understand. They evidently don not have the intellect to try to understand those who are not like they are. They’re tolerance level is low, also. I’m almost ashamed to be English when English strangers, acquaintances, and even friends utter falsities they’ve heard about the Amish. I always try to set them straight about Amish ways because of my relationship with many Amish friends.

      I know from personal experience how loving, kind and understanding the Amish are. I wish that I could be even half as forgiving as they. We are willing to go to great lengths to do all we can for each other. One of their best qualities is that of their forgiving nature, something I lack when I see my fellow English exhibiting cognitive dissonance against the Amish.

      I know just how difficult obtaining services and assistance from local governments for the Amish. I’ve been trying for the last couple of years to have a certain township in Wisconsin pave a short lane in deplorable condition – in such terrible shape that several horses have been lamed and buggies ruined. What’s worse is the fact that the Wisconsin legislature has set aside over $29 million specifically to deal with local roads and byways – a bill pushed through with bipartisan support and sponsored by a good friend of mine Senator Luther Olsen. I wish that he was not so busy that he could use his office to do something to alleviate a situation which could be solved by the township, needing to foot only 10% of the bill to resurface the lane leading to a thriving (and tax paying) cabinet business and an Amish residence.

      I’ll never give up trying to help “my Amish family!”

    2. Lisa Farra

      Safety

      We have a newer community here in Montana as well. ALL of the buggy signs along the main road were stolen within weeks! The county did not replace them until the Amish built a school along the main road. While,admittedly,those who live here know to drive carefully, there is a lot of state land here and the hunters that come in don’t. Many Montanans aren’t even aware that there are Amish here at all.
      Thankfully, there have been no accidents, but I would like to see the rest of the signs go back up.
      I don’t know if the new signs are kind of a novelty? Maybe that’s why they are stolen.

      1. Wow! So the same story basically. It occurred to me there might be novelty appeal to owning an Amish buggy sign. Maybe there is a thriving black market in these signs that we don’t know about;) Joking aside, you make a good point that outsiders coming in, hunters in this case, are most in need of alerting to the Amish presence on the roads.

        1. I’d also be curious to hear of any other cases of this in other communities.

    3. Update - December 2019

      Update on this story: the local sheriff’s office has taken steps to prevent further thefts. He says they got through the hunting season with no incidents, thankfully:

      Oswald said his concern regarding the thefts were rooted in the fact the Amish community in Delta County are so new, having just moved in this summer.

      “So the warning signs are letting people know that Amish are in the area,” he said. “Once they’re established people generally know they’re here. That’s why I was especially concerned around hunting season with all the traffic on (County Road) 426 due to hunting and the people not knowing they’d be running across buggies on one of those corners.”

      Also, this was a good point I hadn’t seen emphasized much before – about snow reducing the space where buggies can travel:

      Oswald said with winter weather here, there is still a concern of accidents.

      “Now we’re running across winter time,” he said. “They can’t get as far off the road due to snowbanks.”

      From: https://www.dailypress.net/news/local-news/2019/12/sheriff-takes-steps-to-stop-amish-sign-thefts/

    4. Bill Rowland

      Stolen signs

      It’s so disturbing whenever I hear of these signs being stolen. My suggestion is this: cut a stencil of a horse & buggy and spray paint onto the pavement. A fraction of the cost of signs and posts. The idea already is used for ‘stop ahead ‘….. ‘School Zone ‘ pedestrian crosswalks etc. They are highly effective….can’t be stolen.