The State Senate unanimously passed legislation Thursday to help save Oklahoma's counties and municipalities thousands of dollars that are lost each year through the vandalism of signs and other property. Senate Bill 348, by Sen. David Myers, would allow counties and municipalities to offer higher rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals for such crimes.
"Our counties and cities spend thousands of dollars each year replacing and repairing vandalized signs and other property. This measure will give them the tools they need to help deter these crimes, which will not only save taxpayers money but will help prevent potentially deadly accidents," said Myers, R-Ponca City.
County commissioner boards are authorized under current state law to offer and pay up to $100 as a reward for the arrest and conviction, or for evidence leading to the arrest and conviction of any person stealing or defacing county road signs. SB 348 would add all other county property to the list and would also increase the allowed reward amount to $1,000. County commissioner boards would also be allowed to have up to $2,000 in their reward funds rather than $500.
The measure was requested by the Oklahoma Association of County Commissioners, but after learning of the bill various municipalities asked that for language to help them as well. Therefore, SB 348 also would create a new law authorizing municipalities to offer the same rewards as counties for evidence and conviction of vandalism if they wanted.
"Our counties and cities have enough on their plates without dealing with these types of crimes. Unfortunately, we're not just dealing with juvenile acts like spray painted signs, but potentially deadly crimes such as stop signs being removed from intersections and county vehicles having their brakes tampered with," said Myers. "County officials feel that offering higher rewards will encourage increased levels of community awareness and people will feel more inclined to come forward about possible crimes."
SB 348 now goes to the House for further consideration.