Campaign sign thefts frustrating voters and prompting police investigations

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UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio (WCMH) – Voters on both sides of the aisle are frustrated by an election season trend of campaign sign thefts.

Over the weekend, Colin’s Coffee owner Colin Gawel found a stack of Biden-Harris yard signs dropped next to the dumpster behind his business.

“Don’t steal signs. And trash dumping is no fun when you’re a small business either because you’ve got to pay for your own trash,” Gawel said. “Just be respectful of your neighbors, no matter what you believe.”

Gawel posted a photo of the presumably stolen signs on Facebook so their owners could reclaim them. A neighbor spotted Rod Beehner’s address on one of the signs and alerted him.

“We’ve put them up for years, but this is the first time [our campaign signs have been stolen]. And two of them have been taken,” Beehner said.

He added political rivalry does not warrant stealing.

“It’s your property and people should leave it alone,” he said.

Marysville Police are investigating a series of possible campaign sign thefts after a video was posted to social media of someone thumbing through 6 or 7 Joe Biden presidential yard signs, captioned with “*expletive* Biden.” Deputy Chief Tony Brooks said the department’s Investigations Bureau is looking into the matter and asking anyone missing signs to call 937-645-7300 or  email police@marysvilleohio.org.

Brooks explained the charge for stealing a yard sign on private property would normally be considered a first-degree misdemeanor, which is an arrestable offense and can be up to a $1,000 fine. For juveniles, the offenses are considered Status Offenses or Delinquent Offenses based on the severity of the offense. 

Neighbors hope penalties deter would-be sign thieves, calling the crimes “petty.”

“It’s frustrating to have them taken and several in the neighborhood we’ve seen have gone too,” Beehner said.

“It’s kind of childish,” Gawel added. “Let people put their signs out. That’s kind of what we do in America and you really can just let it go. It’s not a big deal. You don’t need to take anyone’s sign.”

Upper Arlington Police recommend placing signs near home security cameras and marking them with identifying information so they can be returned if found.

If you suspect your campaign yard signs have been stolen, you can make a theft report with your local police department.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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