SWIPING SIGNS: Stolen signs cause problems for real estate businesses, clients

COLUMBIA CITY — Real estate signs have been coming up missing in Columbia City, resulting in upset clients and hundreds to thousands of dollars lost by real estate businesses.Esther Smith, with Columbia City’s LT Real Estate, said six signs in the city were lost Saturday.“They were all signs in the city downtown streets like Main Street and Oak Street,” said Smith.In the last six months, Angela Grable-Garcia, with Columbia City’s Grable & Associates Realty, said the business has had 100 signs go missing in its total coverage area, which includes several area counties, amounting to approximately $5,000 this year.“We put up a real estate sign with an arrow on it (pointing to a house for sale), and the next day it’s gone,” said Grable-Garcia. “I’ve bought a chain and padlock and hopefully it will keep the arrows down. It’s just hard on us because we have to make a living.”According to Grable-Garcia, this time of year is bad, as kids like to pull pranks around Halloween. “Sometimes the signs will be moved and all show up in one yard,” said Grable-Garcia.According to Brad Minear, principal broker of Columbia City’s Minear Real Estate LLC, it is an ongoing issue, particularly during garage sale season.“I think the biggest thing is when people steal them to spray paint and use as a garage sale sign,” said Minear. “They don’t realize the cost that goes into these signs. The average real estate sign you see at a home for sale costs approximately $80. I just picked up one of our signs a couple months ago that someone spray painted to use as a garage sale sign.”Minear said whether the signs are being spray painted or moved, he does not think people realize the damage they are causing to the listing when the sign is no longer displayed for clients.“I would say on average we have to replace about 20 signs or more a year because of this problem,” said Minear.John Bellam, a CRB, Managing Broker at Columbia City’s Orizon Real Estate, said signs cost them approximately $45 each, and they have to replace approximately 25-35 missing signs a year.“Sometimes kids steal signs as a prank,” said Bellam. “It takes a lot of time and money for agents to have to replace signs and oftentimes they choose to not put up arrow signs, which may hurt a seller’s exposure.”