Hacked Highway Sign in Phoenix Condemns Vladimir Putin | #computerhacking | #hacking

A mystery prankster with unauthorized access to construction traffic signs along Interstate 17 in Phoenix watches world news. And this person sent a geopolitical message to motorists on Wednesday night.

Phoenix New Times already spent time sleuthing about a sign near I-17 and Thunderbird Road in North Phoenix that was hijacked Tuesday night, displaying a vulgar sexual command to motorists driving past.

It didn’t take long for the hacker or hackers to target another illuminated message board on I-17, this time on the interstate near Thunderbird Road.

The political vigilante manipulated the traffic sign to say “FUCK PUTIN.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine Thursday morning, Moscow time, and launched a full-scale invasion of his neighbor.

Within the first 24 hours, more than 100 missiles rained down on troops and civilians and 75 bombers targeted military sites throughout the former Soviet country as Russia began to invade from the north, south, and east.

Margarita Kuznetsova, 24, is one of an estimated 700,000 Ukrainian citizens evacuating the country to the west into Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary. She was displaced from her home in the capital city of Kyiv after gunfire and explosions shook the city.

“We all heard the explosions,” Kuznetsova told New Times on her way to Poland. “It was terrible.”

That’s what led “hacktivists” to commandeer the message board in Phoenix and share a sentiment of solidarity with Ukrainians in a state-controlled by Republicans who are accused of backing Putin’s bellicose narrative.

Valley residents took to Reddit to share an image of the sign and vocalize their support of its message.

“They need to program all the overhead signs with a catchy fuck Putin rhyme,” one Reddit user wrote in the thread dedicated to Phoenix residents.

The Arizona Department of Transportation and the Phoenix Police Department yesterday touted how “rare” this type of criminal mischief is.

Not so much, this week. 

But the pair of crimes separated by just 24 hours and a stone’s throw away from each other isn’t enough for the police department to consider a trend, Sergeant Phil Krynsky said.

Police could not speculate if the same prankster was responsible for both stunts.

“Phoenix currently has not been investigating any type of sign manipulation,” Krynsky said. “But if they are forcing entry into those signs, it would be a criminal damage charge.”

Criminal damage is a felony in Arizona punishable by up to two and a half years in prison.

Witnesses claim to have seen Arizona Department of Transportation workers correcting the text on the message board early Wednesday morning.

“We don’t have additional information at this time,” ADOT spokesperson Doug Nintzel said.

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