If you think you’re sick of hearing Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road”, try being part of the Department of Public Works in Wellesley, Massachusetts. As the unstoppable hit has been shattering records as the longest-running No. 1 single in history, Wellesley officials have been dealing with people inspired to steal the Greater Boston town’s actual Old Town Road street sign.
The approximately 510-feet-long Old Town Road stretches between Ox Bow Road and Dean Road, and signs at the intersections have been stolen at least three times since spring. Said Wellesley’s communication and project manager Stephanie Hawkinson, “The behavior is likely the work of individuals playing pranks, but it costs the town a lot of time and money to locate, repair — and where the signs and posts are damaged — replace, and reinstall the signs” (via The Swellesley Report).
While it’s likely some young rapscallions just indulging in their love of a hit song by committing a little vandalism of public property, Hawkinson warned there are some potentially serious unintended consequences. Not only is it costly for the town, but it could delay first responders who rely on street signage in emergency situations. “[It] could mean life or death for someone in need,” said Hawkinson. “I know it sounds dramatic, but it’s a very real and frightening possibility.”
Wellesley officials have decided not to replace the signs until the hype around Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” dies down (which could be awhile given its current chart dominance and run of remixes). They might also want to consider the tactic of Sicamous, British Columbia, who decided to sell replicas of their own Old Town Road street sign for $25 each after a string of similar thefts (via Stereogum).