'Hollyweed:' Security increased at Hollywood sign after prank

ByABC7.com staff KABC logo
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
The altered Hollywood sign reads "Hollyweed" on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017.
The altered Hollywood sign reads "Hollyweed" on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017.

HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES -- Following a New Year's Day prank that temporarily turned the iconic Hollywood sign into the "Hollyweed" sign, officials announced they would increase security measures around the landmark.

A male suspect dressed in all black targeted the sign at about 3 a.m. on Sunday, according to Los Angeles police.

The unidentified vandal scaled Mount Lee, made his way over a fence and then climbed onto each of the landmark's "O" letters, officials said. He then draped those letters with black tarps so they each appeared as a lowercase "e."

Chris Baumgart, the president of the Hollywood Sign Trust, released the following statement to Eyewitness News on Monday:

"The Hollywood Sign surveillance system is constantly evolving, but an incident like the one that occurred early Sunday morning shows us where there are opportunities to make improvements. The New Year's prank was no exception and we will be deploying additional technology to tighten up surveillance, thus deter unwanted visitors in the future. This is more than preventing pranks or trespassing at the sign. Our concern is the safety of the neighborhood and the trespassers that put themselves at risk because it is extremely unsafe to be on the sign, let alone traversing the treacherous hillside that is home to those nine famous letters."

This wasn't the first time the landmark had been targeted. According to the online newsletter The Cannabist, the sign was similarly edited to read "Hollyweed" in 1976.

The lettering was also changed 10 years later as part of a publicity campaign for a movie.

The prankster still remained at large as of Monday evening. If arrested, he would face a misdemeanor trespassing charge, according to police.