Avon Lake man who stole 500 signs because they were ‘distraction’ gets sentence

John Hoelzl

AVON LAKE, Ohio– A man appeared in Avon Municipal Court on Thursday to be sentenced for stealing more than 500 roadside signs.

John Hoelzl, 62, of Avon Lake, told officers he took the signs because he felt they were a distraction to drivers, police said.

On Thursday, he was sentenced to five days in jail and 100 hours of community service, which will be done at businesses that had signs stolen. Hoelzl was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.

The judge also required the man to apologize to each of the businesses in person and get signed documentation.

The Avon Lake Police Department received several complaints about signs disappearing from tree lawns for months. Some signs were posted illegally, but a majority were posted with proper approval.

Police said they reviewed surveillance video of a man stealing a sign and identified the suspect as Hoelzl.

“They’re an eyesore, they’re a distraction,” Hoelzl told FOX 8 News in June. “I never thought I’d get arrested for it.  I wasn’t really arrested.  They came and asked me and I said, ‘Yeah, I got ’em’ … I gave them all my signs. It was over 500 of them.”