Challenge Alert

Lock in $15,000 with your donation now by 6:30 p.m.

Donate now

Arresting the spread of ‘bandit’ signs in Philadelphia

Some Philadelphia residents are tired of seeing telephone poles and fences plastered with “bandit” signs that advertise services and promise “cash paid” for cars or homes.

In the last year, Christopher Sawyer estimates he’s taken down 700 of the bandit signs posted in Kensington, Fishtown and Mayfair.

“A sidewalk ice scraper is actually probably the best tool to use to lever the signs off the poles,” said Sawyer, describing his process. “And the signs that are affixed with those plastic zip ties. (Ice scrapers) just easily just slice through that plastic like a butter knife.”

After he has the signs down, Sawyer said, he carts them home.

“Once I identify the signs and the owners, I turn over the information that I have over to the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections and the city’s Streets Department. The default fine is $75 per sign and it can be up to $300 per violation,” he said.

Henry Pyatt of the New Kensington Community Development Corporation said he’s been taking the signs down for more than a year.

“For the most part they’re ‘We Buy Homes,’ ‘We Buy Ugly Homes,’ all that jazz, and lately we’ve been getting ‘We Will Scrap Your Car’ signs with various 215 numbers,” Pyatt said. “I’ve called most of the people and explained why they’re making our street look like crap and we don’t appreciate it. When things look like crap, people treat them like crap.”

Pyatt said one of his co-workers gives the eyesores new life—in arts and crafts projects.

 

What do you think of this approach? Do you do anything to help keep your neighborhood clean? Tell fellow readers about it in the comments below.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.