A children's playground is one alternative to the $35,000 spent on vandalised road signs in Whangārei this year.
A Give Way sign changed to "Give Head" on Winger Crescent in Kamo was the latest costly joke added to the lengthy bill footed by ratepayers for graffiti repairs, with many containing the same wording.
Mike Batchelor, Northland Transportation Alliance maintenance lead, said contractors had fixed 532 incidents of defaced road signs since January.
"Usually we don't have to replace the entire sign - just clean it up - and that costs about $98 per sign when you take into account time, mileage, clean up and replacement."
A consequence of road sign pranksters that bares an even higher price tag is the risk to motorists, the boss of Northland road policing, Senior Sergeant Steve Dickson said.
"Road signs are an important part of road safety. We discourage anyone from tampering with them in any form."
Police have attended more than 2000 vehicle collisions this year.
Dickson said anyone caught inflicting intentional damage on road signs can face prosecution. The act is similar to the criminal offence of defacing property by graffiti vandalism.
"But our first step is to appeal to the public to not do it in the first place," he said.
To save ratepayer dollars, Batchelor recommended people call the Whangārei District Council as soon as they spot a victimised road sign.
"A quick response reduces the number of people who see the sign, reducing the likelihood of copy cats, and ultimately reducing the cost to ratepayers who pay for road signs and repairs and cleanup."
Northland residents can report vandalised or damaged road signs, burst water mains and people fly-tipping on 09 430 4200.