A digital traffic sign was hacked in Pima County, angering the community due to an anti-Israel message.
The hack happened right in front of several local businesses on Cortaro Farms Road.
One such business is Flourish Yoga, which is only separated from the sign by a small parking lot. The owner, Amy DeSylvester, said she arrived at work Monday morning to find the sign changed.
“I came in and I went into the studio and I saw the sign,” she said. “It was pointed directly at my space.”
The sign is meant to broadcast road work set to start Wednesday. Instead, it showed several messages that were not related to each other or to road work, like a racial slur against people from China, an anti-Israel statement, an anti-HOA statement, and a pro-Gaza statement.
“I think there’s so much hate in this world today that it’s sad that you’re driving by and you’re seeing those messages,” DeSylvester said.
She said she called Pima County and the Sheriff’s Department before taking matters into her own hands.
“It had been turned, so it was facing directly at my business, so when my members were coming out they were seeing it right in their face,” she said. “I had kids yoga going on, a lot of different demographics coming in and going from the studio that day, so we ended up going out and putting trash bags over it to cover it up.”
The Pima County Sheriff’s Department said it is illegal to cover up a traffic sign when it’s being used as such, but in this case and at that time, the sign wasn’t being used to control traffic. Because of that, covering the sign wasn’t impacting traffic.
Still, the PCSD and the county suggest calling them to report when you see a sign that’s been hacked, just like DeSylvester did.
“They said that they had been aware,” she said “There were many calls and complaints about it and that they were looking into it.”
DeSylvester is thankful the sign is back to normal but thinks prevention and reaction could be better.
“Maybe locking up the box a little bit so people don’t have access to it and then responding to the calls faster,” she said. “If somebody calls and says this is going on, get somebody out right away and turn it off.”
Once contacted, the county has to reach out to the company who manages it. That could be why there’s a bit of a delay in the response.