If You See Shoes Hanging From Power Lines, Here Are Some Theories About What They Mean

It might not be such a common sight anymore, but every once in awhile you’ll see a pair of shoes tied together by their strings and slung over a power line.

You might have wondered why in passing, but never gotten around to Googling the answer – but we’re about to tell you what we know about it.

It turns out that there’s not much consensus on the topic, though several popular theories have been officially debunked.

Source: Pexels

One of those theories is that the shoes are a way for gangs to mark their territory. The police don’t seem convinced, though, and of course, gang members aren’t talking.

A similar theory is that drug dealers use the shoes to indicate that they’re in the area and open for business. Police chiefs from all over North America are torn on this, with some from the American South saying it happens. Others from New York or Toronto dismiss it as nothing more than an urban legend.

Some believe city dwellers throw the shoes over power lines as a way of memorializing a lost friend or family member. The shoes represent them now “walking in heaven.”

Others say no, it’s a sign of a celebration. One Redditor says they used to toss their gym shoes to celebrate the end of a school year, or when they lost their virginity, or some other rite of passage gone through.

They could be there because someone lost a bet, though if so, I hope they weren’t too nice a pair of kicks.

Source: Pexels

Similarly, bullying is sometimes blamed. A vulnerable person could have been overpowered and had their shoes taken and tossed before they could do anything about it.

It could be something as simple as kids being kids, seeing who is strong enough or skilled enough to get the shoes up there just right.

Some believe it’s a form of street art, or “shoefiti.” A street art installation people can use to share their artistic vision with the world.

You’ll typically see the shoes show up in economically diverse urban settings as opposed to affluent neighborhoods – probably because no one in the poorer neighborhoods has the time or inclination to call in a complaint about it.

After all of these answers, you might be wondering if it’s even legal to toss your shoes over a power line.

And if so, is it dangerous?

A spokesperson for the NYPD says that according to city law, it is considered criminal mischief. Other states probably have similar statutes, but in reality few arrests are being made.

Except maybe in Arizona, where throwing shoes over a highway power line would be considered a class 1 misdemeanor – the same as a DUI.

Vandalism laws probably also apply, if states and cops wanted to get militant about it.

Source: Pexels

North Carolina’s Duke Energy says it can be dangerous, too.

“This can cause short circuits, and could result in injuries.”

So, if you’re not a professional, you should let someone else remove them.

Now you know everything there is to know about shoes over power lines!

I mean…you might not know exactly why they’re there, but you have some educated guesses, anyway.



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