2007-11-03 / News

Trustee candidate reports theft of signs

By Scott Rawdon

LIBERTY TOWNSHIP- Someone in Liberty Township has a real appetite for political signs, particularly trustee candidate Ron Galliher's. The candidate said he's tried to wire his signs to trees and other stationary objects, but, "They just cut the wire and take the signs anyway," he said. "Nothing stops them. It's not a fair election when one side resorts to unethical campaign practices." Galliher estimates one quarter to one third of his signs have been stolen.

This is not the first time Liberty Township Trustee candidates have faced criminal activity. In 2005, after current trustees Nancy Montell and Tim Linkhorn defeated long time incumbants Dave Keller and Keith Taylor, Montell said someone shot at the back of her house, and shot her friend's dog - whose owner is a member of the citizens' group the Ohioans for Responsible Rural Development.

Attorney Mark Gardner, who is Buckeye Lake's magistrate, said determining a penalty for stolen signs isn't easy. "It's not as clear cut as people think," he said. "There are some questions that come up." In a case where the candidate is the clear owner of the sign and a person is clearly caught removing the sign from a legal location, the thief could potentially face six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. "You're not going to get that," said Gardner. In most cases, the thief will receive probation and community service - most likely cleaning up abandoned political signs after the election.

It's actually illegal to place a political sign in highway rightof way, said Gardner, so if it's stolen from a right-of-way, it wasn't supposed to be there in the first place. If a candidate gives several signs to a friend, then ownership of the signs is unclear. A person who steals a political sign from a yard is likely to be charged with trespassing. If people, particularly juveniles, steal signs out of boredom and just dump them somewhere or relocate the signs, they may face criminal mischief charges.

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