'Trump Is a Shape-Shifting Lizard': Messages Altered on Electronic Road Signs in Dallas - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

'Trump Is a Shape-Shifting Lizard': Messages Altered on Electronic Road Signs in Dallas

The portable signs read "Bernie for President" and "Donald Trump Is a Shape-Shifting Lizard" during the morning commute

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The messages on three electronic road signs in Dallas were changed during the Memorial Day weekend. (Published Tuesday, May 31, 2016)

    Someone altered three Texas Department of Transportation electronic road signs over the holiday weekend and made their political preferences known to the world.

    The portable signs — which typically display messages like "Exit Closed" or "Lanes Shift Ahead" — read "Bernie for President" and "Donald Trump Is a Shape-Shifting Lizard" during the morning commute Tuesday. Workers with TxDOT began turning the signs off shortly before 6 a.m.

    All the signs were found in west Dallas. The "Trump" sign greeted drivers headed west on Interstate 30 as they approach the Cockrell Hill Road exit. The "Bernie" sign was positioned nearby on Westmoreland Road beneath I-30.

    A third sign that read "Work Is Canceled — Go Back Home" was later found on Westmoreland Road, just north of I-30.

    TxDOT officials said the signs belong to a contractor who has been performing work along I-30. They believe the signs were turned off and locked before the holiday weekend.

    According to TxDOT spokesman Ryan LaFontaine, who is concerned about the hacker's "boldness," the signs cannot be altered remotely and must be changed manually at the control panels.

    "You have to actually be there," he said. "Power it up and get in there and break the password."

    Similar situations have been reported across the country, with those responsible gaining access to the electronic sign’s control panel and changing the message it displays.

    "Any sort of tampering with that sort of stuff is a third-degree felony and it's punishable. We're talking prison time," LaFontaine said. "It's not something that's taken lightly be any means."

    A third-degree felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. LaFontaine says if anyone notices suspicious activity around portable signs, especially when there is no construction, to contact TXDOT or local police.

    NBC 5's Chris Van Horne and Tim Ciesco contributed to this report.

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