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MailTribune.com
  • Anti-drug sign is in your face

    Rogue River resident erects sign railing against drug-house activity, but he hasn't filed a complaint with police yet
  • A Rogue River man says he is sick and tired of methamphetamine in his neighborhood. And he doesn't care who knows it.
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  • A Rogue River man says he is sick and tired of methamphetamine in his neighborhood. And he doesn't care who knows it.
    Bob Smith, 66, made a big, bright sign that says "Rogue River Meth Dealer Oasis" and posted it outside his house Saturday.
    "People don't like to see it. They don't want to hear it. They want to keep a lid on it," Smith says.
    In the last 10 years, Smith says, he has employed the in-your-face tactic seven times, while living in Portland, Asheville, N.C., and a small ski resort town in Colorado, which he would not name.
    Either the police step in, the people he's directing the sign at move, or the property or business owners remove them, Smith says, adding that it has taken up to six months in past instances. He refers to his strategy as "community drug intervention."
    In Rogue River, Smith props up his 4-by-8-foot, yellow-colored, plywood sign on the back of his truck during the day. He takes it down at night so it doesn't get stolen or vandalized.
    "I haven't been threatened yet here. I certainly have in the past, people have damaged my vehicles. ... I am not worried, I am pretty thick-skinned," he says.
    In Portland, one of Smith's signs was more accusatory than the current one, he says. It read: "Crack House" and had a big red arrow pointing at the property in question.
    Rogue River police Chief Ken Lewis says Smith has not filed a formal complaint with police, but he welcomes him to do so.
    "Our doors are always open and our phones are always on. ... We encourage him or any citizen with a similar concern to contact us," Lewis says. "It's easy to say that a guy is a drug dealer, but law enforcement needs a little more than that."
    Lewis says an officer spoke with Smith the day after the sign went up because a confused resident reported someone with a sign in their yard advertising to sell meth, but Smith didn't file a complaint when police asked him about it.
    About a year ago, when a man tossed a pipe bomb at his ex-girlfriend's house on Magerle Lane, where Smith lives, police took reports from residents who said the house where the domestic dispute took place had been involved in the drug trade, Lewis says.
    "Any information that we did have on that neighborhood was passed on to the drug task force months ago," Lewis says.
    Smith, a retired clinical psychologist, says a seeming lack of urgency by police toward suspected drug houses led him to erect the sign.
    Smith, who has been living in Rogue River for about a year and a half, says neighbors informed him of nearby meth dealers when he moved in.
    "It's been going on long enough that the neighbors know ... the police know," he claims.
    Smith lives about a block from Rogue River Elementary School, which heightens his worry. He says he expected resistance from the police, but "without the police this wouldn't work. I don't do arrests. I don't have police powers, and I don't want them. That's their job."
    Neighbor Curtis Shuler, 77, says he supports Smith's sign.
    "It's a clever idea, but beyond being clever, this needs to be taken care of," says Shuler, adding that he has had similar suspicions about a few houses in the neighborhood.
    "I am glad he posted the sign, because it's a clear message for everyone to do something," he says. "We ought to stop this before it gets out of control."
    While Smith stood in front of his house beside the sign, another neighbor, who refused to give his name, yelled at Smith to remove the sign as he drove by in his vehicle.
    "I've lived here 20 years. It makes the town look bad!" the driver said.
    Smith just walked away.
    "The first step is to raise awareness," he says. "I don't get off on this. I do it as a duty."
    Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-776-4471 or swheeler@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/swhlr.
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