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Pranksters put Charlotte County residents in danger

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Photo: Video by fox4now.com

Pranksters put Charlotte County residents in danger

By Kelli Stegeman. CREATED May 9, 2013

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla.- With the official hurricane season about a three weeks away  there's concern about your safety in Charlotte County. 

County officials have worked hard the past few years to keep residents safe and that work is being unravelled by a prankster. 

Four in Your Corner Kelli Stegeman finding out the damage may not look like much but can have a devastating impact.  

Charlotte County Emergency Management's motto is 'Know Your Zone' when it comes to preparing for a hurricane. But, in some places, especially in the East Englewood area, crooks are making it hard to do that. 

"Stop it!" said Philip Corbeio to whoever is messing with the safety of Charlotte County residents. 

"What they're doing is they are putting people's lives in jeopardy," said Charlotte County Emergency Management Director Wayne Sallade. 

He and his team have put 9,400 colored 'collars' at intersections in the county.  

The collars are on stop signs and street signs and are used in case of a hurricane evacuation.

The colors range from red, orange, yellow and green. 

"Those who live in the red and orange zones are most at risk," said Sallade. 

The yellows and greens are the last to be evacuated. The color is based on your elevation and proximity to the water. 

Some residents don't know the collars are there, or what they're for.

"I actually never noticed them on stop signs at all," said resident Luis Gonzalez.

"You knew that they were there and you knew that they were for hurricanes but you didn't know what the colors meant?" Stegeman asked resident Philip Corbeio. "Right," he answered. "I had no idea what the colors were."

Someone, however, either does now about the collars, or doesn't care. 

As you approach the intersection of Kaiser Avenue and David Boulevard in Englewood you should see a yellow hurricane evacuation collar. Instead, you can see it appears vandals cut it orr. To replace it means spending money the county doesn't have. 

"When you tear down a yellow collar like that and take it off, you're keeping someone from finding a safe refuge should a hurricane threaten with a big storm surge," Sallade said.

He asks people to be on their toes and if they see something, report it. 

If the residents we talked to are any indicator, they are going to do just that. 

"Leave those signs alone," said Gonzalez. 

It costs $3.75 to replace a collar, but, when you are replacing several dozen like the county is, it gets expensive. 

If you're caught vandalizing the signs you're faced with a $500 fine.

Kelli Stegeman

Kelli Stegeman

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Kelli anchors the 10 p.m. weekend news.