Society

Trump, Clinton and Your Campaign Sign-Stealing Confessions

Have you ever stolen a political sign from a neighbor's yard? Our readers share their stories of snatched and abused election paraphernalia.

Trump, Clinton and Your Campaign Sign-Stealing Confessions

Election 2016 political signs on a lawn. (Credit: David Mulder via Flickr CC 2.0)

Trump supporters are so fed up with “Make America Great” political signs being stolen from their lawn that they are taking matters into their own hands.

In Indianapolis, after an attempted theft of his Trump sign on his lawn, a frustrated man attached fishing wire and string that he spray-painted green to the sign. When the next perp attempted to grab the sign, she face-planted in his yard, unaware that the sign was attached to the wire, which tripped her up. In Bellingham, Washington, a man rigged up his Trump signs so any prospective thieves now receive an electric zap when they try to steal. And a man in Queens, New York, is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect who repeatedly stole Trump signs from his lawn.

All this thievery had us wondering if our audience has ever had their political signs stolen, or (gasp!) did the deed themselves. Turns out they’ve been on both sides.

I’ve stolen at least four Trump signs. Just making the world a better place one Trump sign at a time.

— Makenna on Facebook

On our Facebook thread, Makenna admitted she’s stolen at least four Trump signs in an effort to make “the world a better place one Trump sign at a time.” Sally Forrester Rich restrains herself but is “tempted to mow down Trump signs with my car.” That’s what Carolyn Flowers has witnessed on her block. “Someone put a Trump sign on the corner of our street and it was run over repeatedly. After each instance it was stood up again, only to meet the same fate.” Once it was “utterly ragged” someone removed it.

Some have fantasies of altering those Trump signs just for a laugh. Luna Hoops says she wants to buy “matching blue spray paint and eliminate all the T’s” to turn them into RUMP signs. Kristine Martin wants to “at least kick” the Hillary sign she frequently drives by. Thomas Smith says his sister’s Hillary Clinton signs have been stolen twice and her house was egged, “probably by kids.”

Where do I get one of these? #immovingtocanada #betteryettojapan

A photo posted by Rick Hernandez (@rick_boxedlifestyle) on

 

New Signs, Old Problem

While Trump appears to be beating Clinton in the sign stealing arena — at least amongst followers of our Facebook page — this petty theft is by no means a new phenomenon.

As a 9-year-old in 1964, Maria Costello O’Connor and her brother ripped off a bumper sticker for Barry Goldwater, who was the GOP’s presidential nominee that year, from a car at a rest stop. “The owner caught us in the act and was so mad I thought he would hit us. Our dad apologized profusely promising to punish us, and then on the way home proceeded to chuckle till his eyes watered.”

Karen Balas Novotny recalls having her Kerry/Edwards sign stolen by her Republican neighbor’s son. She replaced it with one that said “They stole my signs and they stole the last election. Vote in November.” She said her neighbors “laughed so hard they almost fell down” after seeing it. “Ahh, the good old days where neighbors didn’t hate each [other] because of politics,” she wrote.

Barbara Jones Jr. can’t help but admire her then-90-year-old father, who during the 2000 election “went around his retirement home and pulled Bush bumper stickers off cars in the parking lot.”

Recently a number of candidates have even been caught in the act. Longtime Tennessee state Rep. Curry Todd was arrested last month for allegedly removing his opponents’ campaign signs, which was captured on video. In the end, he was bailed out by his challenger Mark Lovell, who went on the win the nomination. Police in Aberdeen, Washington are investigating claims that a county commissioner, Frank Gordon, illegally removed his opponent’s campaign signs. Two photographs seem to show Gordon walking on a property with the signs. Gordon says it’s all a misunderstanding.

(Photo by Arlene Beard Norton)

(Photo by Arlene Beard Norton)

When Arlene Beard Norton lived in Florida and Jeb Bush was running for governor, she says an advertising company printed “Jeb?” signs that were “Approved by the citizens for appropriate punctuation.” She says, “people were stealing them because they wanted them so bad!” Norton held on to her coveted sign, and “may display it here in Colorado just to confuse my neighbors.”

Kay Levine thought about pulling down a Trump sign,” but promised she wouldn’t, reminding us “We need more civility, not less.” Then there is Enrique Caro, who says he’s also considered, but never followed through. Why? “Because I dedicated my professional military career defending freedom of speech and all constitutional rights to all people, so help me god.”

Karin Kamp

Karin Kamp is a multimedia journalist and producer. She has produced content for BillMoyers.com, NOW on PBS and WNYC public radio and worked as a reporter for Swiss Radio International. She also helped launch The Story Exchange, a site dedicated to women's entrepreneurship.