Western Carolina University’s new signs a target for theft

Recently, Western Carolina University completed a campus-wide project which involved numerous directional signs placed across campus. Though students’ feelings about the signs are mixed, it was discovered that the signs contain a major flaw – the individual sign bars which clip onto the larger frames are easily detachable and are being frequently pilfered by thieves.

APCO signs of Atlanta provided the sign systems which they call the SignBar/SignPanel system. The company’s website states that the sign panels are made out of “heavy extruded aluminum message bars or panels that fit into posts using a unique interlocking detail.” Stated benefits include bars and panels that are modular and interchangeable, and “vandal resistant.”

Wiley Harris, director of facilities planning, design and construction stated that to his knowledge, twelve individual signs have been stolen, and according to WCU Police reports, each sign is valued at approximately $150.

Harris said that APCO will furnish the parts necessary to lock the signs in place on the larger boards, and that APCO is “taking care of all the costs” related to installing the locking devices and reimbursing the University for the stolen signs.

Though the original signs were delivered by APCO, the University Print Shop has been re-lettering misspelled and stolen signs.

Harris said that APCO has “worked very well with us to resolve the problems” related to the faulty signs, and that the company will install the locking devices themselves sometime during the week of March 19.

Costs for each signboard range from $785 to $2,750, with larger signs like the one in front of One Stop being the most expensive.

Many students who were already upset with what they saw as excessive spending by the University on the new sign system are further frustrated by recent developments.

“If they were going to spend so much money on the signs in the first place, I wish they could’ve gotten it right,” said Alex Dawson, a WCU student. “I know that the school won’t have to cover the repair costs, but that was a lot of money to spend on signs that weren’t right in the first place.”

Other students laugh off the situation.

“It sounds like a few people got some interesting room decorations,” said sophomore Mark Roberts. “I don’t know why anyone would want them, but people will steal anything.”

According to a previous article by The Western Carolinian, funds for the signs were provided by “non-recurring funds that are set aside for state-funded facilities, with some additional funding from Auxiliary Services and Student Affairs for their associated buildings.”

Harris said that Facilities Management began a study on how to improve campus signage in 2009 and plans to continue to continue to study ways to improve campus accessibility and beautification.