Iconic signs being stolen causing increasing pain in county's wallet

People from all over the country have fallen in love with the scenic stretch of roadway that's known as M-22. A beautiful stretch of highway over 100 miles long that follows the Lake Michigan shoreline of the Leelanau Peninsula.

The road is so popular, visitors want to take a piece of it home with them. The popularity leads to many of the iconic signs being stolen.

The missing road signs are not just an annoyance for the county, they're a serious crime.

The Leelanau County Prosecuting Attorney tells 7&4 News that if you steal one of the signs, you might go home with more than just a northern Michigan landmark - you might be slapped with a $500 fine and possible jail time.

The Michigan Department of Transportation manages the upkeep of the signs. They say the state has spent thousands replacing the stolen signs over the past years.

"It might've exceeded $50,000 already as long as its been going on." said Sheriff Michael Borkovich.

The piece of northern Michigan pop culture has even inspired a M-22 store.

"We have everything from T-shirts to signs," said Nate Farran of the M-22 store. "We sell the actual signs in our store so there's absolutely no reason for thievery."