Billboards warn people to pay up

Billboards Threaten to Out People Who Owe Money
Billboards Threaten to Out People Who Owe Money

COAL TOWNSHIP — The Northumberland County sheriff says he hopes some new billboards will help bring in a lot of the $23 million the county is owed through warrants, fines, and restitution.

But some people say they think the billboards are a bad idea and make the county look bad.

The two billboards show silhouettes of people and warn that if they have an open warrant in Northumberland County, their picture could be there in the future.

Recently, the sheriff's department put some people's pictures on its Facebook page and already got close to $40,000 in payments.

One of the billboards that just went up in Northumberland County is along Route 901 near Shamokin and warns people if they have open warrants, their faces could be on the billboard.

"There are people out there and they generally know who they are. We are looking for them," said Northumberland County Sheriff Robert Wolfe.

Sheriff Wolfe says people owe more than $23 million in fines and restitution.

Recently the sheriff's department posted pictures of some of the more than 700 people on Facebook. In just one week, the county got close to $40,000 back.

"Some of them have paid in full and some of them have signed up for payment plans for money that they owe us."

The sheriff says eventually they will replace the silhouettes with pictures of people who owe money to Northumberland County.

"I've been in that situation. I was laid up and couldn't pay my taxes for a year. I don't want to see my picture up on a board," said Michael Straub of Trevorton.

Straub is just one of the people we spoke with who disagrees with the billboards.

"I think that's kind of shameful. That's going too far with putting a billboard up because somebody owes money," Straub said.

"I don't like it," said Fred Averill of Atlas. "If people owe money, what are they going to do? Go through the legal courts. Don't advertise it."

But the sheriff's department says the intent of the billboards is not to embarrass people.

"It's to get the notification out there that maybe they changed their address without us knowing. We just want you to take care of this issue to get the warrant lifted," said Sgt. Dwyane Pidcoe.

Click here to see a list of open warrants in Northumberland County.

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