Last updateTue, 14 Nov 2017 4pm


Campaign sign theft plagues LA this election

This year's presidential race and state propositions have engendered hurt feelings that go beyond the election results.

Los Altos residents and police reported numerous political signs stolen or defaced in the final weeks leading up to Election Day.

Covington Road resident Peter Suares claimed he had his John McCain sign stolen six times in one month.

He never stopped showcasing his support, but it took work. He put his yard sign outside two hours each morning and a sign in his window. He also nailed a sign to a tree several feet above arm's reach.

The Los Altos Police Department recorded at least a dozen complaints and police reports of stolen signs since September.

"That's a very common thing to occur every election year. It can be kids with backpacks walking home that just see a random act; I have yet to come across any organized groups that are trying to stifle people's political rights," Detective John Korges said.

Juli Kline's first reaction to the theft of her Obama-Biden sign was to make one the same day, adding at the bottom, "Whoever stole my sign, shame on you."

"It's personal property and that's bothersome to me," Kline said. "It made me want to fight harder and go wear my sign downtown."

Los Altos resident Dick Blanding, a longtime Republican volunteer who hands out a couple hundred signs locally, said that an estimated 40-50 residents told him their signs were stolen.

The standard penalty for petty theft, a misdemeanor offense, is up to one year in county jail or up to $1,000 in fines, according to Sgt. Scott McCrossin.

Trespassing with the intent to steal is an additional or lesser crime that the district attorney would file on a case-by-case basis.

No suspects have been charged with sign theft in Los Altos.

George Phillips, another Los Altos resident, keeps his McCain sign inside at night, following the theft of two other signs. He said his next-door neighbor's sign, which was left alone for several weeks, was recently stolen and replaced with an Obama sign, but other nearby neighbors with McCain signs have not been bothered.

Los Altos resident Janet Miller, also on her third McCain sign, said her parents and another neighbor had signs stolen.

"I've lived in this town my whole life and I've never seen this ... kind of stuff going on," Miller said. "And so it's kind of discouraging. It's just too bad, because you think (on) your personal property you can express yourself."

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