Political sign thieves more active in this election

Priscilla Hogg sticks a Bush/Cheney sign into her yard Tuesday in Clovis. Hogg’s first sign was stolen in the last week. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Mike Linn: CNJ news editor

When Curry County Democratic Party co-chairman Gary Swinford helped Democrats campaign in the past, the vandals he was up against were manageable.

Sure, they stole campaign signs here and there. But never has he seen the chaos that has engulfed Clovis, where he said 97 of 100 Kerry/Edwards signs were stolen about two weeks ago — the same day they were erected.
Some of those signs were rolled like newspapers and dropped at the doorstep of the Curry County Republican Party headquarters, Swinford said.

“They took them down as fast as we put them up. This has been the worst. It’s disgusting,” he said. “I think this is happening because it’s a tight race, and so many people have these extreme opinions … it’s just not rational to go out and steal and tear up signs.”

Swinford said he drove to Albuquerque on Tuesday and picked up another 300 Kerry/Edwards signs. He said some signs supporting local Democrats have also been taken, but not nearly as many.

In a separate incident, Swinford said vandals covered the windows of the Democratic headquarters with Bush/Cheney and GOP stickers — ironically the night before a television crew came to interview Democrat campaign staff.
But vandals are not just a problem for Democrats.

Five residents came to the Republican headquarters on Tuesday looking to replace signs stolen from their yards.
Like the Democrat signs, the majority of campaign material getting swiped are in support of Republican presidential candidates, said Rube Render, member of the Curry County Republicans central committee.

“I’m inclined to think it’s just malicious mischief,” he said.
Priscilla Hogg noticed her Bush/Cheney sign missing Tuesday morning at the 1000 block of Gila Street.

A Republican, she said this is the first election she’s placed signs on her property; her husband, who passed away in 1999, was a Democrat, and to minimize “bickering” they agreed to not place campaign material on their property.
She described the sign-swipers as being “mean-minded” thieves with a disregard for personal property.

“It’s not right … I don’t care who the politician is,” Hogg said.
Stealing signs is petty larceny. If caught, perpetrators could be fined in magistrate or municipal court, police say.
Render said he hasn’t contacted police about the stolen signs, because police probably have more important things to worry about.

“I’m sure it’s been brought up enough now that if the police are driving down the street and see you messing with a sign, that you better have a pickup truck with a load full of signs, if you know what I mean,” Render said.