"Guidance from Assistant County Attorney (Tampa, FL) "
Not seeing much in the way of information on the legalities surrounding removing snipe signs, I asked the Hillsborough County (Tampa, FL) Attorney's office for their opinion on this. Here's the e-mail answer I received for all to review:
"Your inquiry directed to County Attorney Renee Francis Lee has been forwarded to me for review and response where you presented the following inquiry. Are citizens who remove and discard illegal snipe signs in the right-of- way subject to fines and/or criminal prosecution? Or, do they have the right, as concerned citizens, to remove what some jurisdictions have defined as litter? In short, there is no specific law which prohibits a citizen from removing an illegally erected sign; however, a citizen may be exposed to liability and/or criminal sanctions for the removal of a legally erected sign.
As you have indicated signs within the right-of-way are subject to the provisions of Chapter 7 of the Hillsborough County Land Development Code (“LDC”) and are forbidden from being erected in public right-of-ways or publicly dedicated easements. There are some limited exceptions to this prohibition and are presented within this chapter. They include signs that are either required by law to be erected or be installed to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of its citizens. Illegal signs that are not permitted are subject to immediate removal by the County at the expense of the owner, agent, lessee or other person determined to have beneficial use of the sign.
As it stands today, there is no specific law which forbids a citizen from removing an illegally erected sign. However, this situation does present a problem in that; a citizen may be subject to prosecution for larceny and/or fines if he or she mistakenly removes a legally erected sign and is not an authorized agent of the County. This is why this task has been assigned to the County Code Enforcement Inspectors. The Code Inspectors are specially trained to identify and remove illegal signs and are in the best position to determine which signs are legal and which are illegal".