No good deed: Speed deterrent signs stolen again

drive-like-your-kids

UPDATE: The six signs recovered by Five Mile River Road resident Abby Knott were stolen again after she put them out on Tuesday night. The original 40 signs put up by Knott on her street over the weekend were stolen by Sunday morning. Knott had appealed to her Five Mile River Road neighbors to collectively work toward slowing down. After asking if any neighbors wanted signs, her family spent $600 on the 40 signs on behalf of 35 neighbors.

A portion of the signs stolen from Five Mile River Road ended up on the grounds of Hindley School, according to Darien Police Officer T. Court Isaac. He is still trying to determine how the 20 to 25 signs of the 40 stolen ended up there and who told students to take them home Monday.

TUESDAY Oct. 6 — Abby Knott and her family had noticed that drivers tended to speed on Five Mile River Road in the five years they have lived on it.

“It’s always been an issue,” she said, which is surprising for a dead-end road.

“It’s a road with beautiful views, where a lot of people spend their time walking, biking, running and walking their dogs,” she said.

The speeding danger is exacerbated by the lack of sidewalks and a hair pin turn as well as a blind hill.

Knott’s children are 3, 4 and a half and 6, and waiting for her six-year-old’s school bus in the morning, she was even more moved to action about speeding cars.

“There has to be something we can do about people going over the 20 mph speed limit,” she said.

Knott contacted the Darien Police Department and talked with Officer T. Court Isaac of the traffic division.

“He was so understanding but said patrolling more or a ticket or two is not going to do much,” he said.

Isaac suggested Knott talk with her neighbors and start a grass roots street effort to get people to slow down.

Along with her children, Knott began reaching out to her neighbors. Toward the end of September, she and the kids delivered 65 letters to neighbors asking them to help with the effort to get people to slow down. She and her husband offered to obtain “Drive like your kids live here” signs for anyone who wanted one and pay for them personally.

Knott offered The Darien Times statistics, including that 70% of children killed or injured by motor vehicles are struck within blocks of their own home, and 74% of the pedestrian fatalities among age 14 and younger occcurred at non-intersection locations.

Knott also said that two women were injured when hit by a car on Five Mile River Road in the early 2000’s.

Out of the 65 letters, she received 35 requests for the signs, some requesting more than one. Some, she said, admitted to being guilty of going over the speed limit but wanted to  join the commitment to slow down. Last week, Knott said, the 40 signs were delivered at a personal cost of $600.  For almost two hours, she placed them herself along the road.

After, Knott said she looked at efforts and admitted to herself that some on the street would probably not like the view. However, Knott said she was not expecting the signs to stay out permanently. She thought removing them and replacing them would be more effective.

“I wanted to give people a warning. Once you leave something up for a while, people won’t see it anymore,” she said.

She updated Isaac on her progress and he placed digital speed warning signs on the street as well. They talked about the windy weather forecasted with the possible arrival of a hurricane.

On Saturday morning, Knott said she noticed some of the signs were missing but assumed Isaac had removed them for safekeeping. She left him a voicemail asking the question. By Sunday, the remaining signs were also gone.

Isaac called Knott to let her know he had not removed the signs.

Someone had stolen all 40 signs.

Isaac filed a police report for Knott on theft. He told The Darien Times he personally searched construction sites, dumpsters and the Darien Refuse and Recycling Center as well as talked with the town’s Public Works Department.

“They are gone,” he said.

Knott said she’s recovered five of the signs in various areas, but she’s disappointed.

“Because no one said anything to me. If they had said ‘The signs are hideous, can we try something else?’ I would be fine with it. We want everyone to enjoy our street and love living here,” she said.

Knott said she will not press charges if the signs are returned — and would be glad to have a dialogue if it is a neighbor who was unhappy with her solution.

Regardless of the outcome, Knott said the experience of putting up the signs has been a good lesson for her children.

“People slowed down. It made them think in a different way. It had a big impact. The second they are down, people are speeding again,” she said.

Knott also said the impact of the signs is not entirely gone — she noted one of her stolen signs made it to a lawn in Rowayton, perhaps after being found in the street.

“If it makes people slow down, then I’m thrilled and excited to see it there,” she said.

Anyone with information on the stolen signs can email [email protected]

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