Road signs in New York have become the latest victims of a national sign tampering craze that began in January after instructions on how to manipulate signs were published online.

Electronic variable message road signs in downtown New York City were broken into and messages telling drivers to go slowly where replaced by prank statements such as ‘New York Is dying’.

Similar events occurred in Collinsville, Illinois in February where signs where made to read: ‘daily road closures due to zombies’. Over the same period a road sign in Carmel, Indiana was altered to read ‘Raptors ahead – caution’ and in Austin, Texas a sign displayed ‘Nazi zombie! Run!’.

Assistant commissioner for the state department of design and construction was quoted in the New York Post as saying that the tampering was dangerous.

“It is wrong. It could pose a dangerous distraction for drivers, for pedestrians, for everyone. The department plans to take steps to remove keypads and monitor the signs more frequently to prevent a recurrence,” Monahan said.

The electronic road signs are referred to as variable message signs because of their ability to be reprogrammed to warn motorists of bad weather conditions, construction projects and other hazards.

It is believed that pranksters opened the backs of the signs and then reprogrammed them using the control-box keypad.

By Daniel Garrun.