Sheriff: Increase in vandalism to campaign signs reported
October 16, 2012
As the election nears and the political conversation continues to heat up, so too has the rate of vandalizing campaign signs.
Carol Howell, who manages the Republican Central Committee office in Carson City, said she has seen a vast difference in the quantity of stolen presidential signs between 2008 and the current cycle.
“(In 2008), we had some signs stolen but nothing like this time,” Howell said.
Those with presidential signs in their yards have come back three or four days in a row because so many signs have been stolen, she said.
For the Carson City Democrats Central Committee, the signs have not been a target near as much as the people.
“It seems we’re about on-par with 2008,” Manager Jenny Smith said. “We’ve only got a handful of calls.”
A couple of people with Obama stickers on the backs of their cars have had epithets yelled at them when they have pulled up to stoplights, she said.
“It’s childish for anyone even to consider” stealing signs, Smith said. “Everybody’s got their First Amendment right.”
Howell agrees: “They aren’t just trespassing. They’re treading on people’s First Amendment rights,” she said.
In Douglas County, numerous reports of theft and vandalism were reported. Between Saturday night and Sunday morning numerous Republican supporters had their signs stolen. Reports of signs outside Republican Headquarters also were reported.
Also during the weekend, a group of signs grouped to make one sign – in support of Carson City ballot question CC1 –were spray painted. After new signs were erected they were found destroyed Monday morning.
Sheriff Ken Furlong said the sheriff’s office is aware the thefts are going on.
“It doesn’t happen when a vandal could see there is a witness,” he said. “The best option is for neighborhoods to be vigilant, calling (dispatch) for suspicious behavior.”
Furlong said criminal charges can be brought against those destroying signs.