Police: No rogue pandas about

2011-08-23T05:15:00Z Police: No rogue pandas aboutDAILY SUN STAFF Arizona Daily Sun
August 23, 2011 5:15 am  • 

Fort Valley Road is no panda express.

Local drivers making their morning commute Monday were greeted by an electronic sign along the busy stretch of road warning of a "rogue panda on rampage."

But rest easy, panda-phobes: It was a prank.

The Arizona Department of Transportation-controlled sign near the intersection of Fort Valley Road and Forest Avenue has been warning drivers about no left turns at the intersection. But at some point hackers took control to tell residents to be on the lookout for an ailuropoda melanoleuca, also known as a giant panda.

Authorities said there is no cause for concern.

"We want to assure all citizens of Flagstaff that there is no problem with rogue pandas," said Lt. Ken Koch with the Flagstaff Police Department.

He does, however, encourage anybody who spots a member of the endangered species roaming Flagstaff streets to call the police department.

A passerby reported the hacked sign to police at about 3 a.m. Monday. The sign was altered late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

ADOT spokeswoman Mackenzie Nuno said the sign was restored to its original message by 11 a.m.

She said the agency has no suspects but noted that the hackers would have needed specialized equipment to change the message on the sign.

About 500 motorists drive along Forest Avenue during peak traffic hours, according to the city of Flagstaff.

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(7) Comments

  1. Judy__
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    Judy__ - August 31, 2011 3:50 am
    This prank has gotten us more good publicity than all the CofC/NAU efforts put together. LOL. Or was this a covert City Council campaign to promote Flagstaff?

    All sorts of publications have picked up the story... usually with a comment like "imagine, something cool finally happens in Flagstaff".

    Maybe we should import some pandas????? And occasionally let them run loose???
  2. Motorhead
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    Motorhead - August 26, 2011 8:59 am
    Perhaps the hacker could go back and write "THIS PROJECT IS TAKING FOREVER."
  3. wristshot
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    wristshot - August 25, 2011 10:46 am
    Gaining momentum as evidenced by the sign on Sechrist Elementary just a few hundred feet from the road sign - "Rogue Pandas Educated Here"
  4. gvanbelle
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    gvanbelle - August 24, 2011 8:54 am
    "He does, however, encourage anybody who spots a member of the endangered species roaming Flagstaff streets to call the police department." I love seeing a sense of humor about such things!
  5. Born in Flagstaff
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    Born in Flagstaff - August 23, 2011 4:30 pm
    I saw this yesterday morning and took a photo. Classic! (But the sign wasn't repaired yesterday...the sign was still turned toward the forested area on the east side of 180 at 6 a.m. this morning, with no message visible.)
  6. Phil McCracken
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    Phil McCracken - August 23, 2011 2:15 pm
    Genius!
  7. WCorvi
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    WCorvi - August 23, 2011 9:34 am
    This is UNDENIABLE PROOF of a cover-up!
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