It's never OK to steal, but it's easy to see why these 10 signs have a habit of disappearing.
1. SHITTERTON, DORSET, ENGLAND
Jameslox via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
As you might imagine, the little village of Shitterton has fallen victim to sign theft many times. In fact, the placard bearing the name of the town was stolen so often that residents eventually chipped in to have a large stone engraved with the name instead. “We thought, let’s put in a ton and a half of stone and see them try and take that away in the back of a Ford Fiesta,” said Ian Ventnam, whose wife came up with the idea.
“Shitterton,” by the way, means “Town on the stream of a midden or sewer,” which seems about right.
2. F*****G, AUSTRIA
There are only 104 residents in F*****g, Austria, but they’re really tired of their road signs being stolen, and they don’t find the constant stream of jokes funny.
The town name was likely derived from a resident named Adalpertus Fucingin. Over time the name evolved into Fukching and Fugkhing, then settled on its modern-day name in 1760. Residents voted on changing the town name back in 2004, but ultimately decided they cared more about honoring the town heritage than thwarting a silly joke. To deter thieves, the signs proclaiming the town name have now been welded to steel and buried in concrete.
3. MILE MARKER 66.6 IN NEW JERSEY
Though many states have road markers indicating mile 66.6, there’s something about New Jersey's that seems to inspire people to steal it. Located in a remote area, Garden State mile marker 66.6 went missing four or five times in a span of just two years. Similarly, Route 666 used to span Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado, until the government got sick of replacing the road signs and decided to change it to Route 491. New Jersey can’t exactly change the number of the mile marker, so the signs, which cost around $50 each, have been repeatedly replaced.
4. BAT CAVE, NORTH CAROLINA
We were always led to believe that Bruce Wayne’s hideout was in a super secret location, but it turns out that it’s actually very clearly labeled. Truth be told, Bat Cave, North Carolina, is named after a real bat cave housing thousands of the little winged creatures—not billionaire superheroes. But that doesn’t seem to stop Batman fans from stealing their street signs.
5. BOLINAS, CALIFORNIA
Don’t bother racking your brains to figure out what’s so funny about the name “Bolinas.” The signs in this seaside community aren’t stolen because they’re amusing; they’re stolen because residents want to keep tourists away. Unhappy with rowdy visitors, especially “young males fueled with alcohol and beach air,” locals have repeatedly removed signs from Highway 1 that point to Bolinas. Apparently no one's told them about GPS.
6. BUTT HOLE ROAD IN CONISBROUGH, SOUTH YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND
Another entry from England, Butt Hole Road is not an anatomical reference, but rather pays homage to a large communal "water butt" (a.k.a. rain barrel) that was used there centuries ago. Sick of street signs being stolen and tourists pulling down their pants for pictures, residents voted in 2009 to change the name to “Archers Way.” There’s also a Butthole Lane in Shepshed, Leicestershire, but the people who live there reportedly love the name of their street.
7. KATIES CROTCH ROAD, NEW PORTLAND, MAINE
Dictionary.com tells us that one of the meanings of crotch is simply “a forked piece,” which is what the good folks of New Portland are talking about with Katies Crotch Road—it’s simply a V-shaped intersection. The “Katie” part is a bit of a mystery, but some say a family with that surname lived at the intersection many decades ago. Residents rejected a vote to change the name to “Katies Road,” even though it sets the town back $200 every time the sign goes missing.
8. MILE MARKER 420
More than one state has had problems with mile marker 420 disappearing like smoke in the wind. Idaho’s solution was to replace it with one reading “Mile 419.9” instead, which isn't quite as precise as the “Mile 419.99” marker Colorado installed. The folks at the Colorado Department of Transportation are no strangers to creative mile marker solutions, by the way—they also had to erect a sign for Mile 68.5.
9. STONER AVENUE, BEMIDJI, MINNESOTA
Despite the fact that the sign is stolen approximately 15 times every year, costing more than $20,000 in the last decade, residents rejected the replacement name “Franklin Avenue” in 2001. Instead, in an effort to thwart herb-loving sign collectors, the street name placards were placed on 10-foot poles.
10. RICHARD BONG STATE RECREATION AREA, BRIGHTON, WISCONSIN
Wisconsin was just trying to honor one of its own, Major Richard Ira Bong, for his considerable contributions to WWII: He flew 200 combat missions and was presented with the Medal of Honor. Sadly, Bong died in 1945 while testing a P-80 Shooting Star jet fighter.
It is almost certain, however, that the people who steal the “Bong Recreation Area” signs are not taking them for their own personal Richard Bong memorials. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources probably prefers that bong/Bong enthusiasts buy a shirt instead.