Someone has stolen the “Welcome to Mitchellville” sign from the central Iowa town and the day it vanished may provide a clue about the thief. The wooden posts and background remain, but the three-foot-wide section that welcomed visitors to Mitchellville with a yellow sun rising in a blue sky over green hills disappeared July 28th, the same day RAGBRAI wound through town.

Where did it go? “I don’t have any idea,” says Mitchellville city administrator Chris May. “It was taken during RAGBRAI. It doesn’t mean that RAGBRAI people had taken it.” The community was the first stop between Altoona and Grinnell on the fifth day of the weeklong, statewide bicycle ride which drew thousands of cyclists and support staff from around the globe.

May is hoping whoever took the sign will return it. “Drop it off in the middle of the night in front of City Hall,” May says, laughing. “It doesn’t matter to me. We just want the sign back.” She says replacing it will cost the city $800 to $1000.

“The actual sign is still there, the wooden part of it,” May says. “It’s the color part that’s in the middle that says Mitchellville and it has hills — it’s on our water tower also.” The Mitchellville sign was reportedly stolen once before, in 2006, coincidentally the last time the bike ride went through town.

Friends of RAGBRAI on Facebook are already talking about taking up a collection if the sign doesn’t reappear.