JEFFERSON COUNTY, COLO. - Denver’s Mountain Parks Office says 37 of its Braille hiking signs were stolen last month.
The signs, which guided visually impaired people through Genesee Park, were uprooted from their posts around May 6th. 50 feet of guide rope, which hugs the trail and acts as guard, was also cut.
Then, a few weeks later they say a man came by and stole their replacement signs.
“It's a pretty egregious act,” said Mountain Parks Ranger Supervisor Dennis Brown.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office estimates it will take $18,000 to repair the signs, upgrading the crime to a felony.
“You know it's really difficult to imagine why somebody would do something like this,” said JCSO spokeswoman Jenny Fulton. “For someone to come along and steal away that experience is just despicable.”
The Braille Trail is a 0.6 mile loop of the greater Beaver Brook trail system in the park. The Braille signs were first installed in the park in the 1980’s as a way to encourage and aid visually impaired people in exploring nature.
Brown says various signs along the trail have been vandalized in the past, but never to the degree they were in May.
“I don't think someone was targeting the blind community with this. I think they were wanting to make a statement,” he said. “It saddens me whenever people are denied the ability to interact with nature.”
Rangers in the park have put up game cameras to get clues to who may have stolen the Braille signs. They are interested in speaking a the person of interest seen in surveillance footage.
Cameras caught him stealing a laminated paper sign used as a replacement for one of the previously stolen ones on May 14 at 8 a.m.
He is described by the office as a white man, around 55 to 65 years of age, weighing around 160 to 190 pounds, with white hair but bald on top. He was last seen wearing a blue jacket with white lettering on the left breast area, light-colored cargo pants and with a dark-colored backpack. A small, black dog was with him off leash.
Video of the man stealing the sign is below:
If you have any information, please call Investigator Fehringer at (720) 497-7860, the Sheriff’s Office tip line at (303) 271-5612, or Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at (720) 913-7867. Reference case number 17-13308 when you call.
Joe Davidson of the Denver Mountain Parks Foundation said in an email to 9NEWS that the foundation and its director is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to an arrest or the recovery of the Braille Trail signs.
"We've contacted the Jeffco Sheriff and investigator to formalize this reward," Davidson said in the email.
© 2017 KUSA-TV