Cheap signs scattered on lawns and along the corners of busy intersections are hard to miss.To city officials,the signs are costly litter that requires city workers to pick them up.
Putting them up is deemed a crime as well,albeit a relatively minor offense that carries a fine of up to $250 in Hollywood,Fla.
While stopping for a red light a few months ago, Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober studied the ghastly signs and came to a realization that would help him stop them from spreading:The criminals had left their calling cards in the form of business phone numbers.
"These people want us to call them, so let's call them so often util it makes their heads spin,"said Bober, who bought a $300 software program in March that robocalls the businesses.The number of the calls has gone up as high as 20 calls per program, made to 90 businesses per day.
In 2009, Bober held a citywide contest, offering $500 in non-public funds to whoever collected the most signs.The signs disappeared overnight, with the winning resident collecting nearly 500 of them.Yet over time,the city was again plagued by signs cluttering the sights.
"For two whole years,I was asking myself what to do,"the mayor said. The robocalls,which leave pre-recorded messages,have been so successful that city officials say certain areas have seen a 90 percent reduction in signs .