One of the four stolen Arundel town signs is shown. The gateway signs were cut from their posts in late November. Credit: Courtesy of Town of Arundel via Seacoast Online

ARUNDEL, Maine — The York County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the theft of four gateway town signs discovered late last month in Arundel.

According to Arundel Town Manager Keith Trefethen, four 3 x 5 town signs were sawed from their posts and removed sometime between Nov. 23 and Nov. 27. The signs were made of two-inch thick redwood and were hand-carved and painted with flat gold leaf letters spelling out Arundel.

Trefethen said that the signs were purchased in 2002 through a grant, with two of them stolen from locations on Route 111 and the other two removed from locations on Route 1.

Signs on Route 111 were placed near Infinity Credit Union and near the town line with Lyman; the two others were near the Kennebunk and Arundel border on Route 1 and just past the turnpike overpass on Route 1 heading south from Biddeford.

“The first one was found to be missing over the weekend of Nov. 23 and the other three subsequently disappeared overnight after that,” he said. “The 4 x 4 posts on which the signs were mounted were found to be cut.”

Sheriff’s deputies may have some evidence to work with as a number of the stolen signs were removed near businesses that use surveillance cameras, Trefethen said.

Based upon today’s costs for signs, Trefethen estimates that it may cost between $4,000 and $5,000 to replace each sign.

“We’ve reported it to the town’s insurance carrier and have informed the Board of Selectmen that the cost to replace these signs will be included in our next town budget,” Trefethen said.

In more than 40 years of municipal service, Trefethen said that this is the first time he can recall an incident like this happening.

“You have oddities that come up from time to time, but this one sort of caught me off-guard,” he said.

Trefethen said he would not offer a motive for the theft of the signs.

“I think there’s a lot of speculation to the motive behind this, but we truly won’t know what it is until the investigation is completed,” he said.

He said that town employees and community residents are proud of their community and have been in good spirits this fall with the approval on Nov. 16 by voters for construction of the new Arundel Town Hall and municipal complex on Limerick Road.

But this incident is cause for concern, Trefethen said.

“You don’t realize it until it happens and how senseless this felt,” he said. “Everyone is working for this community and trying to do things that are cost efficient and done for the betterment of Arundel. This does hurt and it’s kind of sad that someone would do this to our community.”

Anyone with information about the sign theft is asked to call the York County Sheriff’s Office at 324-1113 or Trefethen at 985-4201, Ext. 115.