Tikka Banie was driving on 100th Avenue near Minnesota Drive around 1 a.m. Thursday when she heard a couple other motorists leaning on their horns.
"I was wondering why people were honking," she said.
Then she saw an electronic warning sign up ahead, the kind that usually informs drivers about detours and road conditions. It gave an unorthodox command.
"Honk For Boobs," it read.
"I about wrecked because I was laughing so hard," she said.
A few hours later, around 3:30 a.m., John Walsh was driving his daughter to the airport, north along Minnesota, when the electronic sign at the off-ramp to 100th Avenue caught his eye. It said, "Impeach Obama."
He took a picture and sent it to the Daily News in the morning. He wondered who controls the signs.
"That can't be legal," he said when I called him.
Heidi Embley, on her way back from the gym around 6 a.m., saw that sign too.
"I thought about turning back to take a picture of it to post a funny note on Facebook but then decided I didn't want to get into political posts -- too much drama!" she wrote me Thursday afternoon. "I did jokingly wonder why everything always has to be political -- even pranks!"
Other passersby didn't have as much restraint. "Honk for Boobs," in particular, is still making the rounds.
A Google search informed me that hacking road signs is a thing. I'll vouch for the fact that instructions are all over the Internet. Changing the message is self-explanatory once you're in. Websites are devoted to pictures of pranked electronic signs, things like "Zombies Ahead," "You'll Never Get To Work On Time. Haha!" and my personal favorite, "Party at Julia's 2nite."
How many Anchorage signs were hacked overnight? Had it happened before? How did it happen in the first place?
I called the Anchorage office of the state Department of Transportation to get some questions answered. The receptionist said there had been other calls on the topic. At least one sign had been hacked, she said. But she wasn't the official spokesperson. That person needed to call me back, she said. A couple of hours passed. I called again.
The receptionist told me there wasn't one person in the office who could talk to me. Everyone was either too busy or out, she said. So I called Juneau and got Transportation Department spokesman Jeremy Woodrow.
Woodrow called the Anchorage office. He couldn't reach anyone to explain it either. Except for the receptionist. She told him what she knew. He called me back and told me.
After the close of business on Tuesday, someone gained access to the boxes that control the messages on the signs and messed with them. It's unclear how many were changed. It's unclear whether the project was overseen by DOT or a DOT contractor.
"We don't know when the person who changed the sign broke in," he said. Workers found the changes on Thursday morning around 7:30. If the prankster gets caught, he or she could be charged with a misdemeanor for criminal mischief.
"(The incident) is under investigation by DOT," he said.