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Police: 31 teenagers involved in Snapchat sign stealing challenge, 18 charged

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By Amanda Manning

 More than a dozen juveniles are facing criminal charges for stealing street signs as part of a Snapchat challenge that spread throughout high schools in Oldham County.

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Oldham County Police Chief Greg Smith and Oldham County Judge-Executive David Voegele announced March 18 that the teenagers involved have been charged after a six-month investigation.

Thirty-one juveniles from Oldham County are either involved or have knowledge of the crimes, while 18 have been charged, according to a press release.

The 18 juveniles charged are facing the charges of theft by unlawful taking under $500 and third-degree criminal mischief.

In September 2018, Oldham County Police reported approximately 80 street signs had been stolen from across the county after the Oldham County Road Department noticed the missing signs.

Kentuckiana Crime Stoppers was then contacted and offered a $1,000 reward in conjunction with Oldham County Fiscal Court for information that could lead to an arrest.

The suspects were identified through a tip received through Crime Stoppers.

From there, detectives obtained search warrants for the teenagers’ social media accounts. They discovered pictures of stolen street signs and a video of at least one minor ripping a street sign off on Snapchat.

Investigators also found text messages between students discussing stealing the street signs.

Smith said he wanted to make it clear to teenagers this could have presented “a very dangerous situation” for first responders. 

“It’s a challenge that got carried away,” he said. “They don’t realize how critical it is for emergency responders to have the street signs up. It’s very critical.”

None of the minors’ names were released.

Voegele said they would be seeking restitution. Approximately 70 street signs have been replaced so far, at a total cost of $3,000.

“I do believe that people involved knew that this was a wrong activity,” Voegele said, adding that the signs were taken between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. “You had to get out of bed and sneak out to be able to do this. If you have to sneak around to do anything, you obviously know, it’s not exactly what you should be doing.”

Almost every street sign was stolen out of the Darby Pointe neighborhood in Buckner. Street signs were also stolen from other parts of the county.

The investigation included over 150 investigative hours by Oldham County Police Department detectives and officers and 30 hours worked by the Oldham County Road Department.

Smith said one or two more minors could be charged.

“Hopefully this type of experience – being caught – will prevent anybody in the future from taking a little bigger step doing something else, because they know there are ramifications,” Voegele said.