This latest prank in Encinitas follows a long and storied tradition of hacking construction message boards to display obscenities.
Encinitas, CA resident Judith Bosler II posted up a photo with caption on Nextdoor to her local Encinitas neighbors informing them she was shocked to see an electronic message board meant to display road warnings on Quail Gardens Dr hacked to display an obscene phrase instead.
Check out a screenshot of her post and a bigger photo of the sign in question.
Bosler’s post is linked here.
Bosler’s caption reads,
“I am utterly offended by the monstrosity I witnessed on the road last night. I am not sure whose children are responsible for this, but wow, this profanity during Christmas?”
“I am absolutely appalled. Please be aware while driving on Quail Gardens if you have young children in the car. I was disturbed to be driving with my two young grandchildren and witnessing this horror. Thank you to the kind neighbor who took it down, as it was gone this morning.”
It’s worth noting that Bosler’s profile picture might not even be hers, as a reverse image search links back to a Fan Wiki for a Politics Browser Game.
Bosler’s brief post history does suggest she’s an actual Encinitas resident, and her post does match an actual location in Encinitas.
It appears the photo was taken (at night, obviously) near the 200 block of Quail Gardens Dr. (exact location linked here with a screenshot below.)
Since Bosler’s post went up three days ago, it’s gone viral on Nextdoor and other social media, too.
Bosler’s post garnered close to 500 comments and 300 shares and counting.
The actual Nextdoor user trending a bit younger than Bosler’s profile picture would suggest, fellow residents got a kick out of it, although some did recognize it is an obscene phrase to display (despite using the correct anatomical phrase.)
“My husband and sons found this hilarious, as did I!,” Patrice Isenhower commented.
“I read this post with a British Accent,” Anna Crooks added.
“I clutch my pearls,” Noah A replied.
“I’m sorry, I get your upset, but this is so funny,” said Cristina Trette
Others on Nextdoor and Reddit pointed out and posted similarly obscene signs hacked in the San Diego Area.
Here’s a sign as seen on Claremont Mesa Blvd posted by Joshua A of Cardiff By The Sea.
And here’s a not so tactful sign seen on La Costa/5 Freeway posted by /u/Tats-77.
It appears “hacking” into these signs is a lot easier than you’d imagine.
According to this Reddit thread linked here, if the programmable access panel isn’t left open for anyone to re-program (as it often is,) an $8 Bolt and Wire cutter will make quick work of any lock placed to prevent exactly this prank.
Pranks aside, electronic message boards on public roads serve an important purpose, to inform drivers of hazards, traffic re-routing, and construction ahead. Changing the messages can be potentially dangerous, if not distracting.
That being said, some electronic message boards are programmed for far lesser, not-so-dangerous purposes, like to inform the public of an upcoming event.
While still illegal, the joy and laughs brought on by a hacked sign arguably might be a greater societal good than the message itself.
Regardless, tampering electronic road signs is (probably) not the right thing to do, ever.
But if you do manage to hack one, at least make people laugh, like this sign did.