The name "bandit sign" already provides a hint that its very existence might be a crime. And in many cases, in many cities, that is exactly the case.
Bandit signs are often small, corrugated plastic signs with offers like “We Buy Houses” that are often placed at busy intersections or freeway off-ramps.
In Mesquite, placement of a bandit sign in a public right of way, on a utility pole or a street sign is an offense punishable by a $250 base fine that becomes $316 with court fees, according to a city spokesperson.
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But the city would much rather be rid of the signs altogether than to dole out hefty fines to violators. So, Mesquite has authorized citizens to help out and tear down the illegal signs at first sight.
“If you see a bandit sign or bandit signs in your neighborhood by all means you are encouraged to take them down and discard them properly,” said Wayne Larson, Director of Communications for the City of Mesquite.
There are a few exceptions to this policy – signs for garage sales and for lost pets should not be torn down, Larson said, and neither should what appear to be bandit signs placed on private property.
According to Larson, residents of Mesquite have complained about the eyesore signs in as many ways as possible – at public meetings, on social media and in speaking directly with city leaders.
“[This effort] is to let them know, ‘We hear you. We are doing something about it,’” Larson said.