Election Sign Thefts Up, Crimestoppers Seeking Tips

By Benjamin Cox on September 4, 2020 at 11:12am

Area law enforcement has been inundated with calls of theft and tampering with political yard signs as the election season heats up on the way to November’s General Election.

Morgan County Sheriff’s Deputies and Murrayville-Woodson Fire Protection responded to the intersection of U.S. 67 and the Lynnville-Woodson Road blacktop at 7:20PM on August 27th to fire that involved several bales of hay with Trump 2020 flags and signage. The caller that reported the fire also advised that the hay bales were very close to power lines and that a light-colored blue van sped away from the area northbound. Firefighters were able to suppress the fire before further spread. Deputies are continuing an investigation into possible arson of the signage.

Several area residents in Jacksonville’s west end have reported Joe Biden sign thefts over the past several months.

Crime Stoppers of Morgan, Scott and Cass Counties is reminding the public that tampering or stealing a political election sign is against the law. Jacksonville Police Chief Adam Mefford say signs from both political parties have been stolen or tampered with since election season began: “Like any election cycle each time it rolls around, we have issues with people stealing political signs. It doesn’t seem like the thieves so far have favored one political party over the other. It seems like most of it is taking place at night time. Officers are out patrolling the best that they can trying to keep an eye out for these things. It only takes a matter of seconds for someone to run up into a yard, snatch a sign, and disappear into the night. The overall theme here is: Is it worth getting arrested for?”

It is a Class 2 Misdemeanor for any person to knowingly remove, alter, deface or cover any political sign of any candidate for public office or in support of or opposition to any ballot measure, question or issue or knowingly remove, alter or deface any political mailers, handouts, flyers or other printed materials of a candidate or in support of or opposition to any ballot measure, question or issue that are delivered by hand to a residence for the period commencing 45 days before a primary election and ending 7 days after the general election, except that for a sign for a candidate in a primary election who does not advance to the general election, the period ends 7 days after the primary election.

Mefford says that homeowners who have signs can help combat the issue by keeping a few things in mind: “Homeowners can help by keeping the signs closer to the house in a lit area. A lot of people these days have cameras. If you have cameras and you happen to catch someone in the process of stealing the sign out of your yard, then by all means, turn that video over to the police for attempted identification and follow up.”

Mefford says this year he believes that there have been more than usual thefts of the signs due to the nature of the strong feelings on both sides of this particular presidential election.

The police are asking that anyone who has information concerning these incidents to submit a tip online by going to www.morganscottcrimestoppers.webs.com and clicking the leave a tip button on the home page or by calling Crimestoppers at 243-7300. There are cash rewards if your tip leads to an arrest. Tips may also be submitted by texting 274637 (CRIMES). The first word of the text tip must be “payout”.