crime & courts

Stolen panhandling signs still missing


A sign discouraging panhandling is posted along Kirkwood Ave. Matt Rasnic and Matt Rasnic Buy Photos

Street light posts line Kirkwood Avenue and downtown Bloomington while calls for money from homeless people echo after pedestrians.

Earlier this month, those posts were adorned with new signs disocuraging panhandling by the City of Bloomington.

Twenty-four of the 28 new signs have since been stolen.

The crime is currently under investigation by Bloomington Police Department.

BPD Sgt. Joe Crider said the police believe all the thefts 
occurred sometime between Friday, Oct. 7 and Tuesday, Oct. 11.

Crider said that he believes a screw gun or a different power tool was used to remove 
the signs.

As the investigation is still active, BPD Det. Rob Shrake was unable to comment.

BPD is, however, encouraging anyone with possible information to contact them about the stolen signs.

The signs are a part of an informational campaign and read “Don’t encourage panhandling” and “Contribute to the solution.”

The project was first introduced by Mayor John Hamilton in August as part of the Downtown Safety, Civility and Justice Initiative.

“We will be establishing a public information campaign to encourage residents who want to help those in need to contribute to social service agencies,” 
Hamilton said in an address 
Aug. 10.

The signs cost the city $28 per sign for a total of $840. The signs were placed on light posts and were then bolted on by city workers Oct. 5.

The same night signs discouraging panhandling were bolted on, Bloomington locals were meeting in Peoples Park to discuss just how to help the homeless and what they saw as the city’s discriminatory policies against transient 

Sophia Deliso, a waitress at Cafe Pizzaria, said she did not see a difference between the IU students asking for money for Riley Hospital for Children or breast cancer treatment and the homeless, except that the students are not 
treated badly.

The signs were posted outside businesses all along Kirkwood Avenue and, according to police, were stolen from both sides of the street. Several were also stolen from the town square outside Malibu Grill.

While the city is investigating the crime as a theft and vandalism, others downtown said they did not really understand why the signs were put up in the first place.

Two signs were bolted on a pole outside Cafe Pizzaria on Kirkwood Avenue. Deliso said she did not 
understand the point of the signs and saw them as a waste of money.

“I’m going to give my money where I want,” 
Deliso said.

Deliso and her coworkers said the police had 
already been by to ask them about the situation, but they were unable to add any additional information. She said the whole situation amuses her.

Deliso said she felt the signs were ridiculous and a waste of money for the city and for her tax dollars.

“We didn’t see anything,” Deliso said. “I think it’s hilarious.”

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