Letter thief targets area sign boards

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Staff Writer

Thieves left their mark on various Greencastle businesses this week in a way that only Pat Sajak and Vanna White might appreciate.

It would seem that someone either thought they were being funny or wondered if anyone would notice when they made off with dozens of letter "R's" posted on signs in front of local establishments.

The thief, or group of thieves, did not discriminate when it came to picking a location to target.

Gas stations to restaurants, auto repair shops and doctors' offices -- even the National Guard Armory -- all suffered lost letters when they opened for business Monday morning.

"I don't know if they think it's a joke, but to me it's just theft," Sgt. Robert Lamb, with the Greencastle National Guard post, told the BannerGraphic Tuesday.

Vandals made off with more than a half dozen letters from the lighted sign board that stands in front of the guard post at the corner of Shadowlawn and Arlington avenues.

Instead of reminding drivers of the many local men and women serving the military in Iraq and other foreign locations, the sign looks more like a crossword puzzle with all the "R's" missing.

"I just think it's disturbing," Lamb said. "If it is a joke, it's certainly a sad joke."

Jane Hansen, who manages the Putnam Inn on North Jackson Street, said she wasn't laughing when she came to work Monday and noticed several letters missing from her sign. She said she couldn't figure out how the thieves were able to reach up and grab the letters, which are more than 6 feet off the ground.

"Whoever's doing it needs to put their talents to something more constructive," Hansen said.

A quick drive through Greencastle Tuesday revealed missing "R's" on close to two dozen businesses and offices along Jackson Street, Indianapolis Road and Bloomington Street.

Also hit was the newly opened Putnam County Museum, located in the former Kroger building on North Jackson.

Museum Director Stacy Klingler said she's disappointed by the thefts because it means the non-profit organization will have to spend donor dollars to replace the missing letters.

"When something like this happens, money we would spend on projects or posting new programs now has to go to replace the missing letters," Klingler said. "As a not-for-profit organization, this is really disappointing."

While most people the BannerGraphic spoke with were upset by the thefts, one local businessman was taking it in stride.

Randall Jones, president of Headley Hardware on Indianapolis Road, joked when he talked about finding whoever is responsible for taking the letters. He wondered if it had anything to do with the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie in which the characters proclaim "Arr (pronounced "R") maties" when addressing fellow pirates.

"We've lost our 'R's,'" he said. "And we want them back."

No matter how insignificant the loss is to some, others have notified the Greencastle Police Department with their concerns.

Police Department officials told the BannerGraphic they had received several calls this week from local business owners, but given the nature of the loss, authorities were not asked to file a report. So for now it remains the case of the missing letters.

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