Western Illinois University is dealing with a high profile case of vandalism. Five letters were stolen from Western’s grand entryway sign at the intersection of U.S. 67 and University Dr.
UPDATE: Arrests have been made for the theft.
The “I,L,L and I” from Illinois and the “T” from University were taken from the sign sometime overnight Monday. What remains is the pegs that held the letters along with exposed wiring.
The grand entryway sign cost the university nearly $500,000 in 2013. WIU Spokeswomen Alisha Looney said the letters cost about $375.00 each, totaling up to $1,500.
Lt. Tom Clark with the WIU Office of Public Safety said the vandalism hurt the university. “We are disappointed at this point because of the current budget situation that Western is in that, someone would choose to do this and cost the university money. As the university invests in beautification projects that it does on campus, that someone would do this at this at this point in time is a little disappointing.”
The University has contacted the manufacturer about obtaining replacement letters. But, in the meantime, the vandalism will be on display for new and returning students as well as their parents.
Western’s fall semester starts on August 22 and move-in day for students living in the on-campus dorms is scheduled for next week.
“It’s one of our main thoroughfares obviously and as people travel for move in that’s going to be one of the first things they see,” Clark said.
Clark said Western’s Office of Public Safety is asking anyone with information about the theft to come forward. He hopes that someone may have seen something since the sign is in such a high profile area along the interstate. He said OPS encourages anyone who sees something suspicious on campus at any time to report it.
Clark said vandalism comes with being in a college town. He said OPS regularly patrols for criminal damages. “It’s one of the crimes we deal with more frequently,” Clark said.
Clark did not provide specifics as to the number of vandalism acts committed on campus and Western’s Office of Public Safety’s Clery Report does not detail the frequency of vandalism annually.
This is the second prominent sign vandalized at WIU this year. A letter was stolen from the Western sign in front of the Alumni House on Adams St. in the spring. It was quickly replaced, though, because the Alumni Foundation purchased additional letters for that sign in case of vandalism.
Replacement letters were not purchased for the grand entryway sign because few people walk past that marker.