Signs Offer Alternative To Posters, Paintings

Students looking to supplement the standard Impressionist gems, Michael Jordan posters and assorted Harvard memorabilia on their dormitory room walls had better not look to Cambridge street signs to fill the space, city authorities say.

Stolen street signs may look good on blank walls, but students who steal them threaten the safety of motorists and pedestrians in Cambridge, says Frank T. Pasquarello, public information officer for the Cambridge Police Department.

"If they take a `one way' sign and someone's not familiar with the area, it could be very dangerous," he says. He adds that missing street signs also create problems for en route emergency vehicles.

Although some students do not view sign-stealing as a serious offense, the act has serious consequences. "It is a larceny and [sign thieves] will be prosecuted," Pasquarello says.

Despite warnings, however, Harvard students say the signs are in demand. One student says "no parking" and "speed bump" signs are particularly valued room decor commodities.


Another Harvard student, who wishes to remain anonymous, admits to stealing a stop sign from his home town and hanging it on his wall. When asked what compelled him to steal it, he responds, "I have no idea."

According to the traffic and parking division of the Cambridge Department of Public Works, street signs for Harvard Street, Clinton Street, and Emily Street are frequent theft targets.

"Any signs that are somebody's name disappear," says Jane Kent, assistant traffic engineer in the traffic and parking division.

According to Kent, most reports of missing signs usually come from citizens in the community. After a report is received, the sign can be replaced as soon as the following day if the sign is in stock, she says.