Alton police posts sign outside suspected drug houses after bust

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ALTON, Ill. – Alton police have a new way to motivate residents to call in crime tips and at the same time motivate drug dealers to get out of town.

It all revolves around a sign cops posted in the front yard of an alleged drug dealer. It was the first time they used it and it seemed to achieve the results almost everyone wanted.

The sign says, “This drug house closed for business.”

Police want the dealers and, more importantly, citizens to take note.

“The sign is just to say, ‘Hey, community, we hear you. We took the problem you were complaining about’ and to put the neighborhood on notice this is not acceptable in our community,” said Sgt. Emily Hejna, a spokeswoman for the Alton Police Department.

Vernell Mack, 27, was arrested at the home and he’s has been charged with two counts of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance within 500 feet of a church and two counts of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance.

The sign has been removed and neighbors said the renters moved out. After checking county property records and talking to the police, we were unable to locate the property owner.

Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said it’s not illegal for cops to put the sign in people’s yards.

“A sign like that is a great way for the police department to send a message to the community that our police department is on task, that they are out there protecting our neighborhood,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mack’s neighbors wanted to remain anonymous.

One said he supports the police.

“You can’t condone that type of stuff in your neighborhood makes the neighborhood look bad,” he said. However, he wasn’t sure the sign was a good idea.

“The sign was way out of order. It’s bad business for whoever owns the house. Probably no one wants to come to this neighborhood again.”

Alton is not the first community to use a drug house sign. Others have tried it before in previous years.

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